Monday, 6 October 2014

OK - Okiwi

Okiwi Bay is a small sleepy settlement with 80 full time residents but where the population swells to over 1600 during the summer holidays. There’s definitely a good keen sense of community pride in the bay; little touches & signs that make a stay all that much better; from the slatted seats nailed to the tops of the rail and bollards that run the length of the beach to the rubbish collection depot where during a one hour window, two days a week you can dispose of your supermarket bag full of rubbish for $1 a bag- it doesn't matter that on the first day we went the guy forgot to arrive & the next time he'd gone on holiday & forgot to leave a key for his daughter to open the shed- she was throwing the bags through a hole in the netting up high! When ours went through I was waiting for the smash- as it hit the concrete on the other side, thankfully nothing smashed, it must have been a dry few nights! ;)

Then there’s the children’s playground and the reserve toilets which are regularly cleaned and where there is a donation box located outside. The Okiwi Bay Ratepayers Association, like all small communities, are keen to generate funds; the boat ramp also has a collection box, fees are $5 a boat and going by the number of boats that use it daily I assume they are collecting a good sum.

The first couple of days were warm and calm, this is the view from our dining table looking down the harbour.

Out our side window and across the front garden of the bach next door are the coffee cart and icecream kiosk; the coffee cart opening on the weekend only at the moment, providing coffee & a place to have a catch-up session for a steady stream of locals and boaties arriving back at the ramp.

Along the waterfront are the usual array of aged & well worn 1950-60s baches but up above the road and back into the valley are quite a number of larger and flasher holiday homes with great views out across the bay.

With a steady stream of boats coming and going there’s often a line up of boats waiting to be pulled out of the water. Unfortunately for them, the guys below timed their arrival to coincide with a visit from the fisheries officer who then spent the next 45 minutes checking, measuring & I assume arguing with the occupants. The officer was observed writing a ticket. There are scallop beds nearby and also a three fish limit for Blue Cod which is more than can be caught on the other side of this arm of the Sounds. The whole interior of the Marlborough Sounds is out of bounds for all Blue Cod at the moment.

Everyday there are a trickle of regulars passing by our van, either out on their daily walk or riding down to the camp shop located at the campground around the corner. Including this quad bike and farm dog. Numerous times a day I’ll catch a flash of black as the dog flies past at a phenomenal speed ahead of the bike which comes roaring around the corner a good hundred or so metres behind. The dog is so fast, he’s gone in less than a split second and on the way down to the shop he knows to take the back road which loops round and comes back onto the waterfront further down, he’s around the corner by the coffee cart before the bike has passed us out front, the bike continues on straight ahead meeting up with the dog (who is still going hell for leather) further along. On the way back he flashes past along the waterfront.

Yesterday I thought I’m going to capture him on the way back but I think the bike rider (who is usually going for it too) must have seen me as he called the dog onto the back and cruised on past us at a crawl. I could see the dog was thinking “hey, what happened? I want to run!”. Today the dog was on the back of the bike until they got to the coffee corner then he did a flying leap and he was off around the back. I think I spooked his master.

Everyday we have a visitor to the site, this beautiful male Paradise Shelduck, he comes to fill in his day as he waits for his partner to hatch their clutch of eggs. They have a nest down the other end of the beach near the stream that enters the harbour. After arriving early in the morning he brings her back to feed in the afternoon then escorts her home and returns once again in the early evening. The lady that owns the section has been encouraging them by feeding them but they’ve also taken to sitting on the road which isn’t such a good idea. I haven’t seen either of them today so I’m wondering if the ducklings have hatched and he’s been called to duty.

David has been out fishing a few times while we've been here, catching a few kawhai but no blue cod yet. The first time I went with him but it was too lumpy around the point and I was feeling queasy within minutes; there’s certainly a big difference between riding a a 10 foot dinghy and a forty foot catamaran. I think I’ll stick to exploring on calm days.

Before David went fishing yesterday I got him to drop me at the top of the hill back at the entrance to the bay so I could walk the Goat Hill Track which ran along the ridge and then dropped steeply down to the waterfront. The lookout was out over Whangarae Bay, the same bay that we saw for the first time when we arrived. The tiny islands are what we can see from our van at the end of the harbour.

Once I’ve passed the lookout, the track deteriorates quite significantly. There must be a lot of wild pigs in the area as most of the track along the top has been rooted up. And once passed the fresh diggings I can see that there’s also been a mighty storm up here on the ridgeline. There is windfall everywhere, giant trees toppled over with huge root balls retched out of the ground, other trees have been ripped apart with split trunks and many branches and smaller trunks blocking the route. Thankfully a chainsaw gang has been through cutting up the bigger trunks. I have a little trouble at first locating the direction of the track and then have to climb under, over and through the fallen trees every 10 metres or so. Such is the incredible power of nature.

I assume when I see, rather belatedly, the second lot of pink spray paint on the ground, that it must say something like ‘No access, route blocked’. Oh well I got through in the end. For the people that look after the track it would have been a shock & quite heart breaking seeing the damage for the first time and seeing how many mature trees had been toppled.

There was more windfall at regular intervals further down the track which gave me ‘peeks’ of Okiwi Bay. It may look close but it’s actually quite a distance to the bottom of the valley, after adding all the twists and turns, both the drive to the top and the track back down, were each about 4kms long. The peaks surrounding the bay are all around 1000 metres tall although Goat Hill (where the track was) is only about two thirds of that.

I zoomed in on ‘Out There’ parked on the site and what do you know? There was David in conversation again, this time with a passing local!

About half way down the sun disappeared and the rain started. I didn’t have my jacket with me so I tried walking faster, but as carefully as possible, between the overhead shelter of trees. The track was steep and mostly clay with a deep water drain (or mountain bike rut) down the middle which I had to try & keep in the centre so I didn’t slip down the sides of it. But…

Steep + Clay + Rain = Below. Twice! With a save on the third slip. Time to slow right down otherwise I’d have had to have been carted out of there on a stretcher. I also should have had my tramping boots on but you know how it is, it was just going to be a short stroll down the hill. It was lucky I had decided to take my small backpack with me just before we left, at least I had a snack (chocolate bar to sooth hurt pride) and water on board. Oh and my wet bag for my camera but no jacket for me.

I stopped at the last view point just a short distance from the bottom of the track and waited there for the rain to ease a little. I called David on the walkie-talkie to let him know I was nearly to the bottom and all was OK. It was a surprise to find that we had clear reception as they don’t usually work around bush.

Of course from then on the track was bone dry and totally covered by overhead trees. At the bottom of the track, it was a short walk home along the road for a bit, down to the beach and around the point before crossing the stream (shoes already wet & dirty) and along the waterfront to the van. David had managed to walk the dinghy down to the boat ramp by himself and had gone fishing.

Neither of us had a very fruitful afternoon.


  1. A rather eventfull time in the sounds by the sounds of things all great stories for the grandchildren. The walkie talkie, is not only a gadget it's a way of life!
    Caio J

    1. Very eventful and we had another round of it today as you'll read Jimu. Very scary.

  2. Am really enjoying all your blogs. Even though this is an older post I found it easily in your search area. We are about to embark on a year in the South Island so your writings are interesting, informative and fun!! Many thanks. Liz

    1. Thanks for your comments Liz, they're much appreciated. I'm sure you'll find a little on most places in the South Island somewhere in the blog, we've just passed the 4yr mark and have visited 90% of the island. Enjoy your travels, a year is a good amount of time to really get the feel of this spectacular island.


Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.