Catch-up, back to the Catlins
We didn't move far after we left Pounawea Motor Camp, just across the estuary to Hinahina Boat Club & Hall Reserve, a free parking area for CSC vans only. I say free, but donations in the iron maiden are gratefully received.
Some of you might recognise the photo of the Hinahina Hall. We visited the hall but didn't stay when we first travelled through the Catlins three years ago. The sofas have faded some more and a bright spark has added a note to the chalk board, but nothing much else has changed. At the time we said we'd love to come back when it was summer. Famous last words.
They ask that you park in the reserve around the hall and clear of the boat ramp, but with heavy rain & gale-force westerlies forecast (what's new), and no one else at the reserve we backed 'Out There' down there, between the boat sheds and the estuary to give us some shelter.
We also checked the sailing schedule sheet posted in the watch-house; next sailing date February 7th, and if a boatie came into get their sailing dinghy out of one of the sheds, we gave them a good gap- although peeking in through the doors it hadn't looked like a boat had moved out of there in a very long time.
A gravel pile at the end of the point provided an excellent area to birdwatch. The pile would gradually disappear as the tide came in, slowly dislodging its avian roosters until just two tiny rock peaks were left and usually one shag, who claimed the 'king of the castle' title. The farmer who looks after the reserve told us that the gravel was dumped ballast from the coastal ships that came to transport logs out of the Catlins early last century.
'Out There' once again provided an excellent bird hide, I could sit at the dining room table and watch as birds arrived to feed as tide went out. White faced herons, spoonbills, oystercatchers, pied stilts, kingfishers, shags and ducks all checked out the small deeper pond formed behind the rocks before parading up and down the tide line in front of us. I even saw two rabbits playing out on the dry mud and a wild cat creeping along the rock wall behind us. Open the door to step outside and there'd be a flurry of activity as they quickly departed.
I think the herons must have a built-in 'my-space' measurement calculator (perhaps they could pass it onto a few motorhomers who overlook the recommended 3 metre gap between camping sites) - it's the second time I've seen herons lined up at regular intervals along the edge of the water, the photo below shows just 4 birds but there are another 3 out of the frame.
We were housebound for two whole days as the wind and rain hammered us, it was bleak but we were toasty warm with the diesel heaters and we had plenty of supplies. And then on the 3rd morning an unfamiliar bright orange glow filled the bedroom and woke me very early.
For the next half hour I wandered about in my dressing gown taking a multitude of stunning sunrise shots and marvelling at the early morning nature show that many people miss.
The reflections over the estuary were amazing but all too soon the clouds rolled back together and the sun was gone for another day.
We had neighbours again once the wind settled and the rain had stopped.
And one day we came home from exploring to find another Ultima parked along from us. We've met many Ultima owners on the road but with over 60 out there (no pun intended), there's still quite a few we haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet.
We racked our brains but couldn't tie the ute to the Ultima on this one. That was until David popped over to say hi, and the door was answered by a lovely couple of ladies that we'd shown through our van a couple of years ago. From then on we kept bumping into each other all the way down the Catlins.
And even though there was a bit of cloud cover it soon burnt off.
To reveal a beautiful stunning Catlins day in one direction...
David tried his hand fishing but didn't have the luck he'd had at the top of the estuary...