To all you travellers out there on a limited time looking for a ‘taster’ of the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sounds, how about a scenic 2-hour walk from Ships Cove to Resolution Bay?
If you’re based in Blenheim, a mere 25min drive will get you to the Picton Wharf where a water taxi leaves at 8am and 10am. We’re currently based in an apartment within walking distance to Picton Wharf, but Michael still drags me out of bed at 6.00am. Planning and strategy is everything to that man so hold on to your hat folks!
We’re using the Cougar Line taxi company and Russell, the Skipper tells us to look at for penguins, dolphins and fur seals. We get to see all three! First stop is at the Salmon Farm which is heavily netted against greedy seals. Look at this sneaky sod.
Next, we stop next at the Bay of Many Coves Resort which is nestled in a five-star location – a tranquil piece of paradise. The Chalets are stylish with natural materials used in the build and with 3 restaurants, including 1 for the day visitors, everyone is kept happy.
We spend an hour meeting the staff then we board a much larger Cougar Line water taxi for Ships Cove and I’m loving the scenic ride. After a half hour, we disembark at Ships Cove to begin our walk to Resolution Bay.
First a look at the historical site which is also very sacred to the Maori people. There’s also a large display case with a written history of the area.
And now we’re off with our essential Daypack of supplies. For this walk you’ll need to be reasonably fit as there’s quite a bit of uphill walking. It is thirsty work so remember the essentials – snacks, sunblock and water. As always, it’s rather special to have most of the track to ourselves.
We’ve come across a couple of exhausted Brits coming back the other way. Eyes shining with hope, they ask if there’s much further to go. We tell the truth but kindly leave out the small detail regarding the last steep climb. One dear soul excitedly tells us about the many Kiwi birds she’s met on the way. Sorry dear, those are Wekas. We continue on, then stop for lunch. What do think of the view so far?
Hmm..I think that 6am start is taking it’s toll on a certain someone..
The forest is alive with birdsong from tuis and bellbirds and the sound of Kereru (Native Wood Pigeons) winging their way through the bush is thrilling – they’re the plumpest I’ve ever seen! Life must be good for these guys.
After we reach the wharf at Resolution Bay, there’s just enough time to do a few stretches before we’re picked up by our water taxi…
…and it’s a fun ride back – the boat’s full of happy travellers!
Lochmara Lodge is a mere 15 minute ride by water taxi from the main Wharf at Picton. (water taxis are the easiest way to explore the Marlborough Sounds, especially if you’re time-short.) Departure times from the Picton Wharf to Lochmara Lodge are 9am, 12.15pm and 3.15.pm. So if you board the morning or midday water taxi, you’ll have plenty of time to check out this unique property.
So, what is Lochmara about? My first impression was of the friendly staff, including the water taxi’s Skipper, Shaun (also the owner of the property) and the reservation manager, Bo, who takes care of the overnight guests staying in the chalets. The staff are happy and quick to smile – a great welcome!
I was impressed with the well organised and planned layout of the property. Clearly defined pathways, property map and signage make it easy to explore this estate. The paths can be walked in about 1-2 hours. You can also access the Queen Charlotte Walk from Lochmara and one-way, it takes about 1 hour. It’s a steep hill though! The Lochmara property has cool features like the Glow Worm Gully, Huia Art Space, Flying fox and the “Punga People”.
Lochmara is also a great overnight location and offers affordable and comfortable family units plus well appointed chalet accommodation for couples. And a great advantage for families visiting or staying at Lochmara, is the cafe and restaurant facilities. To me, they looked to have a great selection of local foods and drinks
For overnight guests, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served here at an additional cost and complimentary kayaks are available to explore the shore of the Lochmara arm of the Marlborough Sounds.
Lochmara has a wildlife recovery programme, a bird aviary plus chicken + pigs – fascinating for children and parents alike.
Overall Lochmara provides an easy access option to explore the Marlborough Sounds in a limited time. And if you do decide to visit, don’t forget to take a ‘selfie’ with the Punga People!
Will and Rose Parsons of Driftwood Eco Tours are 4th and 5th generation Marlborough locals and just the sort of people we love meeting. Today we struck gold! Will and Rose specialise in boutique customised eco tours for photographers and nature lovers who especially adore kayaking at night under a full moon.
I’ve always wanted to view those magnificent Spoonbills and look at the architectural detail of their spoon-shaped beaks.
We only have time for a 2-hour kayaking tour up the Wairau and Opawa River. This is an area rich in Maori and European history and with over 90 species of birdlife. But first a kayaking lesson:
There is another very important member of the Driftwood Eco Tours team with her own place in the spotlight. Allow me to introduce the smartly turned out ‘Vix’!
Vix is an integral part of the whole operation and where Will goes, Vix goes…right at the front of Will’s kayak. Today Vix chose me as her new best friend and rode at the front of my kayak for a short while but every so often she’d look nervously back at her beloved pack leader.
Out here, there is a feeling of having the whole world to yourself. Too few of us bother to get this close to nature and it was a special moment when I silently glided pass this beautiful Shag. Close-up flight shots were impossible. I’m not a photographer’s backside, so this was my best folks.
The oxygen around here is so pure and empowering. I can hear the sound of my own breathing and hey, we’re the only people here! Quick detour to the right…Will’s just pointed out a couple of beauties.
And there they are – those magnificent Spoonbills. When feeding, the Spoonbills move in unison in a loose choreographed routine and when in flight, instead of staring ahead they actually look around at their environment. I was so close to them but no time for a close-up – they took off in majestic flight. It was a special moment and I was moved by it.
Now about that lunch. Will instructed us to stop our kayaks at an embankment by the mia mia (a sturdy shelter). So we headed off with the mystery lunch bag.
The mystery contents of the lunch bag are revealed. Will’s a dab hand at bacon & egg pie. It’s delicious. But I’m a bit reluctant to try those weird little muffins, also made by Will. He’s very proud of them. Would it be rude of me to refuse? Go on girl, give it a go…and looks can deceive. They’re yummy delish.
I love the driftwood that makes up the landscape around here. I can see why Will and Rose chose this name for their specialised tour company. It’s everywhere, bleached white and a perfect resting place for birdlife.
Reluctantly, the return trip flies by and I understand why Will’s customers can’t exactly define why their life has been changed by this experience – they just know that it has. I do know that it has enriched mine.
While travelling and working, we’re meeting people and viewing properties we would never have known about. The dynamic Rose Montgomery runs a lovely spacious cottage homestay on the family vineyard and what Rose doesn’t know about the Marlborough area, isn’t worth knowing. We spend a good hour picking her brains about the area and when she asks if we know about French Fields, we shake our heads. Rose flies into action, makes a quick phone call and suddenly we’re hurtling 10mins up the road to meet Ruth Struthers.
Ruth’s property is purpose-built in the French Provencal style and located in endless fields of Lavender – the same lavender used in the beauty products for her three luxurious honeymoon suites. The 3-course breakfasts menu sounds delicious and I have to say, the romance of this beautiful property is sure hard to beat. Here’s me with Rose and Ruth enjoying the view.
In the spirit of inclusion, here’s another photo with Michael…only because the red jacket adds a bit of interest.
Like me, Michael loves good quality, nourishing food, so on Rose’s recommendation we decide upon the Rock Ferry Winery Café for lunch. It’s quite an intimate space and humming! The wait staff don’t have a table for us but they’re determined to find a solution and they do. Here’s Michael trying to follow the-chew-slowly rule…
…I’m content to linger over the white-fleshed Tarakihi and all the other pretties on my plate.
Blenheim is a great location for the lifestyle travellers – people who love premium wine and the comforts of life. This has been a great day and a positive one. Right now, I’m a ‘happy camper’ (figuratively speaking of course).
I was born with blue eyes, short legs…and a walnut-sized bladder. So I’m grateful to the pretty country town of Havelock for providing clean toilet facilities. Little towns should never underestimate the importance of having clean facilities. There’s no better way of getting travellers to stop for a while, have a coffee and a general browse up this very interesting main street:
What traveller could refuse to have their photo taken outside this iconic landmark?
Today, we were just another couple of travellers stopping at this little town and finding a beautiful newly opened little art gallery simply named “The Gallery Havelock” This gallery is not only special because it has a carefully chosen display of local artwork, but it is also supplied and operated by very forward-thinking individuals who have formed a Trust with profits being returned to the community.
I met Brett Avison, a children’s writer and a volunteer at the gallery. In the photo below, it looks as though he’s giving me my marching orders, but in fact he’s actually pointing out a sculpture made of pure whalebone, the value of which you might be surprised to see in a small town gallery.
But that’s the beauty of this gorgeous little gallery. The art ranges from $35.00 to $10,000 and even at the lower end of the spectrum price-wise, it is recognised authentic and quality artwork. I’ve found a treasure today and the folk here certainly deserve the success coming their way.
Havelock you little beauty, thanks for all the reasons for making me stop, both humble and fabulous!