Marlborough Sounds 2/19-2/20/2017
We woke up to clearish skies and some great green rolling hills springing up from the nearby sound. For as small as Picton was it was booming (we later learned there was an annual yacht sailing competition taking place that weekend, which explained the absolute lack of accommodation in Wellington and Picton) so we decided to head west ASAP. One look at a map of Marlborough Sounds and you’ll see how tempting the area is, regardless of ceaseless wind and rain. There are endless coves and inlets on its speckled land/seascape. As we don’t have a power boat or the means to acquire one, we decided a few hikes to lookouts of these marvels would have to work for this trip. As great as forested hills encompassing bright blue seas are, the southern Alps await and priorities must be made.
The drive only lasted 30 minutes or so before we found a campground that had a waterfall and glowworms within a 30 minute walk (Smiths Farm Holiday Park). The waterfall and glowworms would be perfect for a romantic sunset hike. Since it was only 11:30 or so, we set up tent and drove to a nearby hike with a lookout (near Moetapu Bay). ‘Lookout’ was the only title and description we got for this hike. We relied entirely on MapsMe for this one – the trailhead wasn’t marked, no distances or times were given, all we knew was that MapsMe showed a dotted line (trail) leading to a lookout. We found it without too much trouble and while the trail was slightly overgrown, the vegetation had dried from the morning storm. I’m not usually one to go hiking without a map or a clear idea of where we’re going but considering we were surrounded on three sides by ocean and the only way to go was up, it seemed pretty unlikely we’d end up getting lost. Man, was I wrong…..
Just kidding. It all worked out. The trail itself was fairly dense but the few overlooks we had were incredible. Big, forested hills climbing sharply out of the ocean haphazardly. Really, just a crazy sight to behold. With as dense as the forested hills were, you could tell this area gets a ton of rain and views like this were extremely rare or man-carved. In this case, our view was provided by a fairly solid 60 foot cliff that had the curtesy to sheer off the nearby shrubs to give us this lookout into the sounds.
Back at the campground there were a few spare hours to relax and get cleaned up but rather than do that, I attempted to shave my beard with half charged clippers. When my clippers died, I was a little over halfway done shaving my beard. McKayla went to charge it up while I hid in the car laughing at myself and reading. My second attempt with the clippers failed, they died again. So, I used McKayla’s tiny pink razor to very slowly shave the other half of my 6week old beard. It’d been nearly 2 years since I’d saved with a razor and I got to say, that little pink razor left my face feeling as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
Finally, when I was looking respectable again, we made our way to the common area to cook dinner. The campground has farm animals for kids to feed so there were a lot of young families staying there. Screaming children filled the kitchen and lounge area so we hurried through our meal and headed out for our walk, away from Old Macdonald campground. We packed a bottle of wine and went off towards a waterfall against the hillsides in the distance. A few grazing fields led us to a narrow trail leading back to a tall, slim, strangely angled waterfall. Thankfully, signs were posted well below the waterfall saying the best place to spot glowworms was there. Meanwhile, we continued on a rocky stream bed path to the waterfall where we enjoyed a cliffed waterfall sunset alone. We watched the surrounding mossy cliffs of the waterfall and then, like stars in the early night sky, the glowworms began emerging one by one, then in clusters. By the time it was pitch black you could make out glowworm walls running parallel with the waterfall 50 feet up. Glowworms lined the path the way down. The trail was slightly more treacherous than I remembered it being in the daylight (probably the real reason for the sign claiming better glowworms below) but we had our headlamps and enjoyed the starry tunnel.