Thursday, 30 October 2014

Checking out of Kenepuru

The sun sets over Kenepuru Sound and after a wonderful ten days, it’s time to hit the road again and finish exploring the Marlborough Sounds.

We loved having the DOC Kenepuru Head campground to ourselves for most of the time we were there but when the long Labour weekend brought at least a dozen campers to the site it was great to have some company for a change. The campground is so large that there was plenty of space for everyone to spread themselves around.

After having fantastic weather all week the rain & wind arrived on the Sunday of the holiday weekend which was a shame for those that were in tents and/or had only come for a couple of days.

Of course our departure wouldn't be complete without a weka inviting himself in to say goodbye. He got a short shift!

I’m sure DOC thought we’d outstayed our welcome, they had to mow around our van (and in fact DOC have just mowed around our van once again here at our latest site, this is becoming a habit!)

Without any stops, and travelling slower through all the twists & turns with the 5th-wheeler on the back, made the 40km to the main road feel a very long way. We were heading to the DOC camp at Momorangi on Queen Charlotte Drive which is just 6-7kms on from the main road junction so it was good to know we didn't have too much of a journey ahead of us. Momorangi was on our radar because it had a small boat ramp & good access to the Sound without us having to worry about the tide. David was keen to see if the snapper had arrived.

Unfortunately our plans were foiled. We knew that Momorangi Camp was being upgraded over winter and that they hadn't quite finished them, but we didn't know that they actually have a long way to go to complete the changes. The Momorangi Campground is leased out and while its in a nice spot it’s more like your usual campground with all the facilities, it also has the main road running through the middle of it. After coming from the quiet and remote Kenepuru Head it was a bit of a shock to find such a busy site with earth moving machinery and workman everywhere along with sections of the campground roped off. So we made the decision to continue on to Picton and around to another DOC site at Whatamango Bay.

Queen Charlotte Drive is one hell of a road, it’s a narrow and winding (what’s new) scenic drive that links Picton with Havelock. Most sane people travel the extra distance and join the two towns by travelling via Blenheim, it’s longer but faster and the roads are fairly straight. Not us or overseas tourists, we want to see the sights. I think I saw a sign post flash past that said no vehicles over 9 metres. Too late. By the time it registered we were well past and we couldn't turn around to check. Oh well, we’re used to these roads by now.

The road was narrow, and it was very winding, and it climbed up a few hills but none of these faze us much any more. It was the amount of traffic coming the other way, and mostly driving down the centre of the road, that was the worry. I know it’s narrow but there is a centre line for a reason, and if you have to cross it, slow down and check nothing is coming the other way before proceeding. These cars just pressed on seeming to take no notice of the fact that we were approaching.

Once we got to the other end and stopped at the lookout over Picton wharf I realized that a lot of traffic would have come off the ferries that had recently berthed.

We stopped in Picton to top up the tanks with diesel & petrol(generator), fill the gas bottles, fill with fresh water & dump our black & grey water tanks- thankfully all at the one service station which was great. Next was the supermarket to replenish the fridge, freezer & pantry. We’d done really well with supplies and the only thing I ran out of was milk although I still had one carton of long-life milk left, and powdered milk if things became desperate (yuk). But it was nice to get fresh veges & fruit, bread & eggs and top up the supply cupboard as well. Oh, and the wine- just one bottle spare thanks to a few entertaining nights over Labour Weekend.

Finally we were back on the road and heading to Whatamango Bay another 10kms further on past Picton on narrow winding road (no surprise there!) The wind was picking up and storm clouds gathering by the time we pulled in and even though we set up camp down by the water we were tucked in behind some low bushes and around the corner from the main wind which was blasting down the bay.

Whatamango is another large site but it doesn’t quite have the same appeal as many of the other DOC camps that we’ve been to in the Sounds have. The tide was out when we arrived but by the look of it I think it must roll in here which just happens to be very near the front of our vehicles. It’s not a tidy looking bay, with lots of driftwood and debris scattered about and exposed mudflats.

I know the weather has a huge bearing on first impressions of a place but unfortunately this one isn’t doing it for us. Maybe we’ve just been spoilt too much with the sites we’ve already visited but we’re both not that impressed with this side of the Sounds. We were going to move onto to Whites Bay or Robin Hood Bay on the east coast after this stop but we’ve now decided we’re going to head to Nelson Lakes for the next couple of weeks. We’ll explore the east coast side another time, I think we’ve just had too much of the same scenery for now.

We might not be too impressed with the site but these couple of crazy ducks are even less impressed with us. They think we’ve brought intruders to their patch.

I thought, at first, that they were pecking the bugs off the bumpers but after half an hour of quacking, head bobbing and climbing over each other I went outside to have a look. They were attacking their reflection, silly crazy ducks. I think they were a little crazy anyway, they’re either brothers or two drakes in a relationship. They wander everywhere together, side by side, they play in the puddles and rest together, it is quite sweet how much affection they have for each other. But now they’re starting to annoy me (and David), they keep coming back and attacking the bumper. All day, they've been here and even when I chase them away, half an hour later they’re back again, quacking and dabbing at their reflections.

The mate of this female paradise duck spends half his time chasing them away too.

The forecast gale force winds and heavy rain arrived this morning but as I type the sun is back to shining although the wind is still strong- I spoke to soon, it’s now pouring again with strong gusts rocking the van. And as I predicted the tide came creeping around the corner this morning, stopping just short of the ute.

We’ll sit it out here tonight and then head to Blenheim tomorrow and onto the Lakes.

And in case you’re wondering why we don’t just move further afield, I’ll let you into a little secret. We’re booked to cross back over Cook Strait in mid November. But don’t panic. It’s just for a couple of months. Family is calling and the call is pretty loud. We’ve done good to last 12 months without seeing our North Island families but we’d really like to catch up with them soon. We’ll be in Tauranga late November & most of December and then Napier for Christmas & January, including going camping at the Tuki Tuki River like we should have two years ago (the two caravans have been replaced with motorhomes since then). Then we’ll cross back over late January and continue on our journey.

And once again this might be the last post for awhile, I'm not sure how reception will be at Nelson Lakes.

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