Woke up to another beautiful day with bacon and eggs and walked up hill to sound of Tui and Bellbird and the odd Grey Warbler. As I broke the bush line all was quiet so made a phone call and watched the sun arise out of it’s slumber, such a beautiful sight.
Once at top of hill rode to Community hall which is built out of old power poles and met one of the very friendly locals who unlocked hall etc. Soon after was back on my bike and riding northwards to Patuki the most northern farm. The views were exhilarating every corner offering a new headland, beaches, rocky bluffs, islands, ewes and young lambs and cows and calves. These animals were something one had to be very aware of when rounding corners as the road is one warm, flat platform that sheep particularly like to sleep on. I must compliment the road builders on this island as the grades are surprisingly good and surface so smooth.
On arriving at Patuki, shearing of hoggets ( young sheep) was in full swing and I was welcomed by Gus Forgan the farm manager for The Lone star farms who I last saw about 30 years ago when we were once near neighbors! This farm is nestled in a steep gully lying due north and looks out over The Abel Tasman Roadstead just south of Stephens Island home of the Tuatara’s. I soon met Gus’s wife Becks and their 3 lovely girls and spent time talking much about nature and technology. This property was also home to my wife’s family the Leov’s for many years so a fascinating history; had my lunch on the veranda of the original cottage looking out over the sea.
Left the farm mid afternoon with a gift of 10 eggs and freshly shucked paua which I had for dinner with my Tui beer!!
On my return spent much time looking at rocks and plants in the and around the mineral belt. This area is unique for unusual plants and argillite outcrops which Maori used extensively for tools.
Arrived at Community hall tired but full of inspiration for the people who have made this place their home.
Wow!!! what a buzz and exciting journey was this trip which I had been planning for sometime. I initially set off on a famil to tour with French Pass Sea Safaris and the sailing ship “Steadfast” with my bike to check out the suitability of bringing clients to this area. I was not disappointed and was given a very warm welcome by all locals I met on the way.
The days were warm, sunny and very little wind which I was told rather unusual; so luck was on my side.
My first piece of action was an introduction to Laurence and Grace the proud owners of the ketch “Steadfast” which was built by Laurence over a 15 year period.Take a look at the photos and you shall see the work of a craftsman and attention to detail. Well we get on board have a brief chat and moments later the wind springs up so time to hoist the sails with Grace controlling the wheel. She sails beautifully and there is plenty of room on board to relax and enjoy nice organic lunch.
We cruise up to Catherine Cove where I’m to stay the night in one of the kiwi batches and met by Aaron who is the chef and owner of the Wilderness Lodge. He was originally the chef/owner of The Shed on the waterfront in Nelson. Once ashore I decide to explore this bay and tracks which leave the bay heading up hill towards Mt. Attempt.
My fitness levels are tested within minutes and soon pushing the mountain bike up hill but the scenery more than makes up for it. This would also make a great walking tour particularly for the lovers of flora and fauna. The sweet smell of Kaihua or New Zealand jasmine was magic, also flowering was Clematis paniculata and Metrosideros fulgens or climbing rata interspersed with manuka and broadleafs. Near the top I reached the Durville island road and took off northwards continuously distracted by birds, rocks, flora and views.
This area is one of the best in New Zealand to study the mineral belt and the effect it has on the vegetation. Soon I returned to Catherine Cove and enjoyed well earned rest and a Tui (beer)!!