Oh you in the Northern Hemisphere – if you don’t want to turn an unbecoming shade of green, you might want to stop reading now. For I am in paradise.
This morning I got the ferry from Wellington to Picton. On the open deck, a man came over and sat down beside me. ‘Hghuten morgen,’ he said. I can’t prove it, but he didn’t sound German and, for the purposes of my theory that Wellington=Switzerland, I’ve determined he was in fact Swiss. In fact the ship was chockablock with Germans, Scandinavians and Icelanders – I think they might have outnumbered the New Zealanders. I wasn’t the only Irish person though – a board in the lobby revealed that the ship used to be known as the MV Isle of Inisfree … I think I might have crossed the Irish Sea in her a time or two.
The Cook Strait is notorious for offering a bumpy crossing, but we were lucky and it was relatively calm – though the wind blew like a bizem (is that a real saying or just something I made up?) - enough to clear the deck once we were out of Wellington Harbour. The last hour of the journey is through the fjord-like Marlborough Sound (is that why so many Scandinavians - they have to try to visit ALL the fjords, the same way Muslims are obliged to try to visit Mecca?)
At Picton I had to get a water taxi (isn’t that wonderful?) but by the time I got to the dock it was ten past twelve and my taxi had been due to leave at midday (the bags were very slow to get off the ferry). But in an example of kindness I’m discovering is very typical of New Zealanders, the taxi driver (skipper?) saw me at the pier ‘looking lost’ (as he put it) and came back for me.
A 15 minute whip across the bay brought us to Lochmara Lodge = Paradise. This is an eco lodge that you can’t drive to: it’s only accessible by foot or boat. The accommodation is not particularly fancy, but the setting is glorious. There is a café on site, tame birds wandering around, a sculpture trail and a grove of hammocks at the top of the hill. I found these this afternoon when I went up with my camera. I curled up in a hammock and fell asleep for two hours. How’s that for relaxation?
Tomorrow I’m planning to take my packed lunch (courtesy of the café) and walk along the Queen Charlotte Track. Right now, I’m planning to have a glass of wine and an early night. I can hear the beautiful birds calling and the sound of the waves from my room. Oh, it’s enough to make you sick.