CHAPTER 2 - The South Island. A choppy start.


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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island
May 21st 2008
Published: May 22nd 2008
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And so with the darkest days behind us, our ship of hope will steer, through these unchartered waters, by our motto, PERSEVERE

- Rubbing in the Persevere Gallery, Leith School of Art.

Every year I take myself off for a week to the isle of jura. A unparalleled place of unique beauty, peace and tranquillity. A very special place that holds a part of me that I only ever find whenever I’m there, on the isle. I remember talking with a friend on the island, Ross Rozga, and he asked me what I was looking for, why I was going and would I come back. To him I replied that there are three things that would make me stay elsewhere, the right person, the right job and the right place. The right place, my Jura, a home from home. One of the best things about going to Jura is the journey. The drive though the rugged highlands as the daily routine life disappears in the rear view mirror. Arriving at the Kennecgraig port and boarding the Caledonian MacBrayne, setting out on the crossing to Islay, watching for porpoise and wildlife, already feeling the excitement and in trepidation of the inevitable arrival to the place I so dearly love.

This year, despite being fortunate enough to be where I am, I
A calm startA calm startA calm start

The sea wasn't bad as we initially left Wellington.
have been slightly upset that I won’t be able to go there for the first time in 7/8 years. So, when we sat in the van in the Wellington harbour, waiting to board the ferry for the crossing to the south island, I felt somewhat giddy and overjoyed, like I was going through the motions of going to Jura; waiting to board, looking forward to the crossing, being up on deck and staring out to sea for hours. I was being given the very thing I had thought I had sacrificed to come here, and was overjoyed to get onboard. My euphoria unfortunately, turned very quickly into shear despair.

As we sat down, a woman’s voice came over the tannoy “Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry for the hour delay, this has been due to adverse weather. The first hour and a half of our journey today is going to be rather unpleasant…” At which point I switch off from listening as the knot in my stomach formed. Why would you say this to everyone? Isn’t it just going to cause unnecessary panic and fear?! Well it already had, within me. Now I’ve sailed in a couple of rough
picking uppicking uppicking up

the slow but steady increase of the waves
seas before, nothing life threatening, but strong enough for me to realise first hand the awesome power that it holds, strong enough for me to fear it. Well, we set off and were instructed that we were not even allowed on deck, to which I started to feel quite unsettled about and the knot ever tightening. After 20 mins Chris, Nicky and me had moved to the food galley and were sitting by the windows. There was no-where we could face directly forward to a side view of the sea was as best as could be managed. The waves got bigger and slowly bigger. Asking one of the crew she said that there was a standard 6 meter swell the whole way with waves reaching upto 10 meters, and at 9 meters, they would turn back. I was amazed how big the swells got whilest we were still so close to the land, up and down, up and crashing down.

Now this is one of the worst things you can encounter. Not the rough sea but human instinct, when fear becomes overwhelming, is to ‘fight’ or ‘flight.’ Now when you can do neither, when you are totally at the
Rough...Rough...Rough...

One of the smaller swells...
mercy of something you cannot control, it can be completely unbearable. Everyone fears something, and this is possibly my biggest, hard, relentless, rough, powerful sea. So what choice did I have? None. Acceptance and a little courage was about all I could try and muster as we headed out to sea, each wave slightly stronger than before and every so often the odd rouge wave would almost stop us dead in our tracks. The knot in my stomach grew ever larger and stronger, far from butterflies, more like a giant elephant moth on steroids with a thousand volts flowing through it. Up and crashing down. Nicky and Chris showing no signs of worry or fear, casually reading to themselves as I crawled into the window cavity in order to see the relentless barricade of water coming towards us. Now this whole experience was bad enough, but I was reading “the life of Pi” at the time. For those of you who haven’t read this book (and I thoroughly recommend you do) and without giving the plot away, it’s about a boy who’s ocean freighter sinks at sea! The irony, or rather, annoying coincidence, was not helping matters. It’s like reading
Sunset over the South IslandSunset over the South IslandSunset over the South Island

As we came into the sound, the seas had calmed, along with me and the sky was alight with colour.
a story about a plane crash as your going through rough turbulence, aweful. Up and crashing down.

After a while I suppose acceptance had taken hold but I was still very unhappy about where we were and what we were experiencing. The swell had seemed to calm at the 6 meter and the sun had even come out. I went for the video camera and decided to make a wee documentary of the crossing and my cowering like a little girl. As I did this, out of no-where, we were hit by the biggest wave yet. So for those of you who would like a giggle at my cowardliness, click here and watch this! Roughcrossing Now, I must add, my language is more than colourful, so Granddad, you might not want to listen to this one! you may also need to pause it till it loads depending on your connection speed.

The crossing was supposed to take 3 hours, it took over five! And just when I had gathered myself together, the boat turned 90 degrees and took the rest of the waves side on as we headed straight for the south island. By now the waves
Morning oneMorning oneMorning one

Woken by a bad back but to a beautiful day.
were tiny by comparison, but still enough to give us a good rocking, click here to see. wobblystill

So, a rather fastly drunk large glass of wine gave me the rest of what courage I needed to venture out onto the deck, hearing a crew member say that if they had known it was going to be that bad, they would have never set out. My heart bled for those poor souls who were having to sail back that night, in the dark. Well, fear turned quickly back nto euphoria again when outside, assisted by the wine, and I rather enjoyed the little daylight and rocking we had left. It was amazing how quickly our emotions can turn from one extreme to the other and even more incredible I found, how much love, respect and fear you can have for the same thing.

While writing this just now, Chris and Nicky had another little laugh at my expense and a guy sitting beside us told us that in the last few years there was a crossing that took over 15h hours. I feel like weeping even thinking about it! All the vehicles were totalled, people were injured and
Weird fungusWeird fungusWeird fungus

The odd shperical fungus that I found
many panic attacks …. Well. We arrived unfortunately in the darkness, missing the wonderful scenery we heard so much about, but safe and rather happy to be on land. So much for my journey to Jura.

Pulling out the bible, our road map book of NZ, with all camp sites listed, we headed to a free one just outside Picton. I woke the next morning in quite some back-pain. All the driving was making things bad and I’m waking at 5am each morning in quite some discomfort to say the least. This has though, allowed me to witness some of the best sunrises and glorious mornings I have ever encountered. It is so very important in life to take the good in every bad situation. That morning too I found the weirdest fungus plant life I have ever seen. It appeared to grow from some kind of submerged egg and formed a spherical exoskeleton structure. I was in awe and somewhat perplexed by its form and reason but, well, that’s it really.

We ploughed on that morning, through Nelson, where I had hoped to catch up with an old friend Chris Pyemont, but calling his work I found
What a catchWhat a catchWhat a catch

...and the fish dont look to bad either! Ha ha, great days fishing.
out he was getting married that very day! So, we headed on up towards the Able Tasman and to catch up with Simon and Mel from Paihia who I had last seen in Auckland and were now fruit picking. Free campsite found, we pitched tent for the night on the coast, with one of the best starry nights yet.

So, not being put off by the lack of success fishing in Taupo, we drove up to Anatoki Salmon farm for some fishing for the day. Now, this again brought back quite a nostalgic injection from spending time with John at Invararey fish farm while growing up. Ok so its no-brainer fishing but the sun was gloriously warm, cloudless sky and two carnivores eager to be hunter gatherer, while the vegetarian looks on, contemplating her morals and wondering if she should in fact, fish. Being the stupidly cocky fisherman that I was feeling, convinced of certain success and sure of myself, I turned to my co-fisherman and said “$10 if you get a salmon on your first cast!” line in and waited. Chris follows suit and BAM! Fish hooked on his first cast. Me and my big mouth. Well I
Sunrise at MotuekaSunrise at MotuekaSunrise at Motueka

Another glorious start to the day.
suppose that’s fair after the tent bet back in the North Island. 5 minutes later, Chris gets his second fish, and then his third… the sod. Sure enough I slowly found the style and the place to fish and started to pull in my own catch. When we decided to stop we had ten between us, 6 to me and 4 to Chris. We had them smoked there and eaten fresh, wow, best fresh salmon I have ever had. The rest was vacuumed and kept us going all the way to Queenstown.

The following day we decided to take a hike along the Able Tasman. A boat ride up the coast on a beautiful morning where we were dropped off on a stunning beach. The walk back was glorious, the views were awesome, we three, team freedom, talked and took in the day. It took 5 hours to get back and we were all beat by the time we got back to Motueka. We caught up briefly with Mel and Si before heading South and Drove on through the night to our next free campsite, or so we thought it was free.

Arriving in the dark to campsites
Sunset at MotuekaSunset at MotuekaSunset at Motueka

With days and nights like these, we camp in glory.
isn’t great. Its so much harder to see where a good spot to camp is, yet we found a spot under and by a tree. Now this tree, was quite simply the coolest tree I have ever seen in my life. New Zealand - Aotorea - land of the long white cloud, has some of the most awesome natural features to it. For me it will also be land of the most fascinating trees and stunning stones. This tree was incredible. You couldn’t tell if it was one tree or 8 trees, its trunks were branches and it was at all the wrong angles, with one long large trunk running across the ground and more trunks or branches running up from it. Chris parked his tent underneath and we settled in for the night. Woken yet again by an excruciating back, I walked around and took in the morning. After photographing it and breakfast, we headed off. At the gate to the campsite entrance we stopped and opened it, drove through and closed it. I had said to Chris and Nicky that we should put some money in the “honesty box” on the gate but as we closed it and
Able Tasman drop offAble Tasman drop offAble Tasman drop off

Anchorage bay, where we were dropped off for the walk back to Marahau
Chris got back in the passenger door, a little lady came out of the hotel and shouted “Did you pay?!” to which Chris shouted back “yeh, last night” again “did you pay?!” and again “yeh, last night!” and promptly turned to Nicky “Go, go, go! Hit it!” Now if freedom was capable of wheel spins and burning off in a trail of dust, this would have been her moment of glory, I’m just glad we didn’t stall.



Additional photos below
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Sheltered by the treeSheltered by the tree
Sheltered by the tree

Chri's tent under the great tree
Wonder TreeWonder Tree
Wonder Tree

The most amazing tree I have ever seen.


22nd May 2008

................................think..............
................you should go back and pay!!!!

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