The Queen’s Birthday. It’s hard to imagine that they still celebrate it here in NZ as a national Holiday (paid work leave, always celebrated on a Monday), but they do. Not even in England do workers have an automatic day off….which makes me think that Kiwis just love their public holidays. Most of them are English by decent anyway so celebrating the Queen of England’s birthday doesn’t seem quite as strange as it would in the U.S. At any rate, we used the three day weekend to drive up to the Marlborough Sounds and hike a nice little track named Nydia.
We started with a boat taxi to a point on the road a few kilometers from the trail head. Aw, what a cute pair! The cookie scum on Milo’s chin even resembles Daddy’s beard.
The boat captain thought he had enough water depth to drop us off at a closer point to the trail, but the tide wasn’t behaving as expected (or, more probably, he hadn’t checked out his boat clearance ahead of time), so we had to use plan B. No matter, it was still a lovely morning for a boat ride in the Sounds.
Milo walked a bit on the trail at the start, but the trail started climbing and he was glad enough to hitch a ride with sherpa Daddy. Plus we had to make some tracks to get to our lodge before dusk, after our drive from Christchurch and the boat taxi.
And why not nap while riding in style?
On the Track Lodge, our night’s accommodation, was in a cover of Nydia bay that you see here. 20 minutes from our destination we popped out of the steep native bush into cow pasture. It seems surprising that farming survives at all on the depleted soils and tiny flat areas among the Sounds, but the cow pies and geese did provide a welcome diversion for Milo.
Almost to our Lodge! Look, what a lovely fancy sign.
The Lodge is a series of buildings. There’s a main lodge with kitchen, lounge, and dining areas and smaller cabins for sleeping. There’s even a vintage train car converted into two bedrooms.
Posh accommodations compared to our usual DOC lodges, complete with beds and sheets so we didn’t even carry sleeping bags.
Duncan, the owner (a former builder), bought the place about two years ago and has been upgrading it from an Eco-style stay to a slightly granola yet more elegant accommodation. Milo took his portrait when he came to welcome us. He convinced his parents to join him and they’ve been working their tails off to make this place lovely. They’re such warm people that I do at times wonder if they’re real.
The generous veranda boasts hammocks and swings, and behind that swirly door is one of the hot showers, tiled with stones and shells.
I got some good ideas for an inexpensive yet attractive kitchen if we ever have a second house we’re outfitting. Second house, Ha! We don’t even have a first house right now….but that’s no reason not to dream about a lake cottage.
Lots of warm-feeling wood finished to a high sheen. What you can’t see is the generous wood stove that keeps the place comfortable even in winter.
All the dishes even match.
Breakfast with a view from the front porch. I watched Milo streak across the yard towards the goats, then proceed to climb the paddock fence! Not that these goats would have hurt him, but it’s not a good habit to get into, particularly as some fences are electrified.
This nanny goat was quite friendly with Milo. The Lodge keeps a small milking herd, as if they didn’t have enough work to do already! Abi would have loved them.
Tom, Duncan’s dad, fed the goats some hay so they would all come near the fence for Milo to see. They seemed more than happy to have Milo, and unperturbed by a 2-year-old’s antics.
We highly recommend this place and plan on taking family if anyone comes to visit. Duncan told Jeremiah he could come back and hunt. We saw “heaps” (as they say here) of wild pig trails and tracks, and I might even be excited about a hunting trip if it meant another stay at On the Track Lodge.
Not long after leaving the lodge we passed this sign. Eels are traditionally fished for food, so the sign isn’t a joke….though we’re not sure that DOC (NZ’s equivalent of the Forest Service) really lent this eel their personal protection.
Sure, enough, Mr. Eel made an appearance and hung out near the bank like a park duck waiting for bread.
Yikes, wouldn’t want to meet this guy in ‘person’ under the water. I was nervous enough just sticking the camera under for photo, but though he nudged the camera with his nose, he didn’t offer to bite me.
The Marlborough sounds are full of tree ferns. They look like palm trees (of which they do have a few as well), and the gullies with streams are as lush as a Hawaiian jungle. I think if you stood still for very long, the vines would trail over you and the epiphytes would engulf you until you were swallowed up.
This is a small tree fern, but at least it was a convenience height to admire. They’re all making spores right now, and it made me wonder how many fern spores we were breathing in with each breath. Thank God for a fully functional immune system! And no, that pot-belly doesn’t mean I’m getting fat (I’m ridiculously self-conscious about that right now). Baby number 2 is on the way, due in October.
The Lodge arranged transport from the north end of the trail back to our car, and though the wind had been picking up and the clouds lowering, we got no rain while on the track. The last bit of the trail passed giant old beech trees and Rimu, a NZ native podocarp (like a conifer but it makes fruit instead of cones). It was a lovely hike. Come for a visit, we’ll take you too!