Originally we were heading from Marfells Beach to Momorangi in the Marlborough Sounds for a couple of weeks of rest and relaxation (and fishing) but we had to make a detour and carry on over the big hill to Nelson to do some urgent maintenance on the 5th-Wheeler.
And as you can see it’s not all beer & skittles when you’re on the road- here we are parked up for the night in an overgrown empty lot with a shipping container and an old caravan for company and whole lot of dog sh*t;- David wanted you to know that after stepping in a few piles! The company who were doing the maintenance use the empty section and suggested we stay here so they could get an early start the next morning.
They offered the section again the next night but we decided to re-locate to the familiar and friendly Richmond Racecourse site where we’ve stayed a few times before. They were quite busy with a few permanents (max. allowed 3 months) and other full-timers passing through. We parked across a couple of sites and stayed hitched so we could pull out early the next morning. It was a lovely surprise to be greeted by Shirley & Graham; they have been running the camp since the new year. We met them way down south in Manapouri last year when we were both staying at a great campground and where I took a helicopter ride to take photos of the campground.
We pulled out early the next morning and hauled ourselves back over the Rai Saddle and down into the Marlborough Sounds pulling into the DOC Momorangi Campground with enough of the day left to sit outside and enjoy the warm sunshine. That was after setting up the table and chairs for the first time this season and we also had our first taste of pesky sandflies for the season, or more to the point, they had their first taste of us. Summer is on its way!
I spoke to soon. We stayed at Momorangi for 7 days and had rain for 5 of them. It was heavy and steady for a couple of days and on and off for the rest. My hunter-gatherer decided he is a fair weather fisherman so the Takacat inflatable didn’t see the light of day & stayed tightly packed in the back of the ute. The weather, along with the fact that the blue cod fishery is out of bounds for 3 months sealed the fishing fate.
After Momorangi we headed into Blenheim to do a few chores, stopping at our regular stop, the Blenheim Racecourse. Another not so ‘beer & skittles’ park over, the grass areas were very boggy and rather than venture into our favourite spot between the grandstands and avoiding parking outside the Ballet School (where we had little girls swinging on the ramp bars just below our kitchen window and Mums parking their cars beside our front door) we backed in beside the tote office. Keeping well clear of doorway where the tractor is stored. Tractor? Too late. 7am the next morning the door is scrapped open across the gravel to stop right beside my bedroom window. The tractor roars & revs for about a minute before it bursts out the door on a mission. To be repeated again the following morning.
Chores done we were out of there and on our way to the DOC campground at Whites Bay. Whites Bay is located north east of Blenheim on the coast, at the bottom of the Marlborough Sounds but on the outside of the Sounds- if that makes sense.
If you headed north out of Picton on the Port Underwood Road, Whites Bay is towards the end, just over the hill is the beach settlement of Rarangi and the Wairau Plains. We came in from the Rarangi end- a steep and winding 6kms. No towing (not that, that stopped us on Queen Charlotte Drive into Momorangi) or large motohomes & vehicles are allowed further on past the bay on the Port Underwood road.
Whites Bay is a small sheltered bay (except for easterlies) that is obviously quite popular in the summer- there’s a surf club headquarters near the beach front and plenty of camp sites although all the top areas are closed off for the winter.
Across the bay is Cape Campbell and Marfells Beach. Whites Bay is named after Black Jack White, an American Black who deserted his whaling ship in 1828 and lived with Maori in the bay.
In 1866 the first of many telegraph cables between the North & South Islands was brought ashore at Whites Bay. The telegraphist's building that had been prefabricated in Australia was floated ashore and sits, preserved, in the middle of the DOC camp.
Today we explored the Port Underwood Road (I’ll do a post on it later), initially we were just going to drive the road along the coast and turn around before it headed inland across to Picton but in the end we drove the whole loop- 80kms with about 50 of them on a narrow, gravel, very winding road, climbing up and over high ridges and down into tiny bays and then back up again.
There's a side road up one of the Sound arms with a monument towards the end that I had set my sights on seeing but when we got to the turnoff I had second thoughts. 14kms there and 14kms back on a similar or probably worse road just to see a monument- my head said “Don’t be silly”, the wanderlust in me said ‘Go for it”. This time my head won. David was pleased.
That got me thinking.....and so, I'm going to dedicate this post to my number one fan. A person who reads every blog post word for word and at least twice and probably 3-4 times and then asks when the next one will be posted. This person is the one who gave me the genes for my wanderlust and thirst for exploring the back-roads and byways, an extra special man who always took the long way home, despite the pleas from his wife and the whining kids in the back seat of the car. Happy Fathers Day to my darling Dad xx