From London’s Olympic Village to the Marlborough Sounds

 

It’s great to be back!  After 3 years of guiding in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and the wilderness of Fiordland, completing a carpentry course at polytech in Christchurch and labouring on construction sites in London, I’ve now had 3 weeks to renew my friendship with the beautiful Marlborough Sounds.

It’s nearly 15 years since I arrived at the Portage Hotel in Kenepuru Sound looking for some work for a few months which ended up being two years.  Then another six  years as a guide for Sara and Dave at MSAC.  Now I live in London but it is great to be back for a short visit.  There’s a new office, a brilliant new bunch of staff, the buildings on the Picton foreshore are a couple of stories higher, the old-timers who I used to serve Marlborough Draft at the Portage are slowly drifting away, I’m  wearing yet another MSAC uniform and the packed lunches are a bit posher, but some things haven’t changed.  The seals still loiter with intent at the salmon farm, the school boat still takes the kids to school in Waitaria Bay, the lush Sounds bush still looks Jurassic compared to the stark, barren Scottish coast, the water is still a different shade of green every day, the fishing still “isn’t what it used to be” and Lulu the MSAC dog is still in charge of the office.

It’s hard to believe I was pouring concrete at the Olympic site only 3 weeks ago.  And as I commute home this evening on the water taxi it’ll be even harder to believe I’ll be back sitting on the Tube in a couple of weeks.  It’s made me realise what an utterly wonderful place this is.  And I can thoroughly recommend to anyone gettimg stuck in the Sounds for a while!

January in the Marlborough Sounds

Where has January gone – somewhere amongst the haze of peak summer season in Picton?  The Marlborough Sounds was a popular place for many New Zealanders, Australians and Europeans over the Christmas/New Year period and we have had a great time launching adventures for visitors from a few hours to a few days.  As you can see from the photos below, our month was dominated by a range of weather, unfortunately unseasonably cool which did make some trips quite interesting.

The month also saw a fantastic New Years eve party and fireworks on the foreshore, the hosting of another Marlborough Farmers Market and the Picton Maritime festival – celebration of all things maritime, followed by live music and fireworks (again!). Picton really has been the place to be over the summer.  A highlight for January has to be Dave appearing large as life on the front page of the Marlborough Express on our stand-up-paddlle boards – a new edition to our hire fleet.  http://www.stuff.co.nz/marlborough-express/news/6215985/Paddle-boardsproving-popular.  He has been getting a suitably hard time about being Picton’s new “pin-up” boy!

February is a busy time for Marlborough residents and visitors with Blues & Brews, the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival early in the month, the Winery Tour visiting on 17 February with Gin Wigmore, Atlantic City and The Muttonbirds playing.  Lots to see and do, mixed with a few days rest and recreation in the Sounds thrown in as well.

So as we rush into February we wish you a very belated happy and properous new year.

 

 

 

Another Big Weekend in Picton

Picton was abuzz on Saturday morning with the inaugural Marlborough Farmers market in Picton  featuring local produce from around Marlborough.  This inaugural event is to be repeated on the first Saturday of each month between December and April.  Stalls included fresh

MSAC Xmas Float

strawberries, eggs, pork, fish, hazelnuts and cheese.
It was a bonus to also have the cruise ship,  Pacific Pearl, in port for visitors to enjoy the local produce and tours on offer.  The ship was packed with Australians and we certainly noticed the increased number of “skinny milk” coffee drinkers!
The day finished with our annual Xmas parade which featured 30 community and business community floats.  Our children and friends, and family dog Lulu, entered the parade and won 2nd prize in the parade.  It was a big day all round!

Picture Postcard day for Volendam Visit to Picton today

After a grey, damp morning the weather has cleared to a picture perfect day for cruise ship visitors on the Volendam.  Seen here parked up against the Interislander ferry,  Picton hosts the Volendam regularly as it navigates around New Zealand during the summer.  Visitors are greeted by the ladies from the Lions Club who have gathered flowers from local gardens and created “boutonnaires” for cruise ship guests to wear whilst in Picton.  Cruise ship guests can be seen wondering around the town, enjoying the market on the foreshore, coffee on the waterfront, and enjoying cruises, eco-tours, walks on the Queen Charlotte Track and sea kayak trips in the Sounds.

Society of American Travel Writers Hike Queen Charlotte Track

The SATW team depart Picton for the Queen Charlotte Track

After a conference in Wellington 19 members and their partners of the Society of American Travel Writers flew into Marlborough to join us for a 4 day walk on the Queen Charlotte Track. Departing Picton with The Cougar Line on Saturday with our guides Ray and Dave, they have spent the days hiking and nights staying at the three hotels on the track, Furneaux Lodge, Punga Cove Resort and Portage Resort Hotel.   Some have even managed to squeeze in an afternoon sea kayak in the Kenepuru Sound and the collection and boiling of some fresh green-lipped mussels.  There will be no doubt some great stories and images coming from the trip so we look forward to hearing and seeing the tales of their journey over the next few months.