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From above Ngakuta Bay

From above Ngakuta Bay

Today is my Birthday, and I’m on the coast road between Picton and Nelson. I’m right here. I hadn’t planned to be anywhere special for my birthday, but it’s certainly worked out that way.

I left Otaki over a week ago. I didn’t want to leave, but it’s a council run location, and the rules are that you can only stay for two nights. I will want to go back there, so I played nicely and moved on. Otaki is a wonderful west coast place, peaceful while I was there, but you knew that in a couple of hours it could all change and be wild as! I think the petulance of the coast is part of its appeal; you never know what’s coming next… placid can turn to brutal at a moment’s notice.

There was a spell of bad weather coming again, a seemingly endless procession of Low’s kept coming up from the south-west… stormy and cold… so I moved on to Wellington where I could get some shelter there from the approaching storms; I had something very special to do there too.

From above Ngakuta Bay

My new map tool

For a long time I’ve been experimenting with ways of showing what I’m up to and where I’m going in map form. I am advancing a set of stories, journeys, and these are expressed much more vividly as locations on a map, rather than chapter titles and place names in text.

I went back to Eagle Technology where I worked for many years, to meet up with some old friends, and to have a look at some particular technology I was keen on. The result was that for a modest investment I now have a map index to everything that I’m presenting here.

It took me a week or so to learn all the things I needed to learn, to put a sensible looking map together, and to link in all that I want to link. Now that it’s done I’m back to my normal routine.

You can see from the map that I moved from Otaki to Lower Hutt, to a campsite at Upper Hutt (I needed a proper shower, and their laundry), across Cook Strait, through Picton, and onto Rarangi.

Rarangi may appear to be in the wrong direction for what I’m doing, but it’s close to somewhere very important indeed…. for that you will need to read the up-coming post about the people that lived on the Wairau Bar, at the mouth of the Wairau River.

Now, I’m on my way to Nelson; I have some very important things to do there.

There’s a guy there who wrote a book on the history of Nelson (the place, not the person) and he clearly knows more about the genealogy of the early Maori immigrants than anyone else in print. I want to pick his brains on a couple of important details if he’s amenable. But there’s also a rather more practical and urgent need to go to Nelson… my heater’s packed up!

Grape fields and the Seaward Kaikoura range from Rarangi

Grape fields and the Seaward Kaikoura range from Rarangi

Twice now I’ve have had to pull out my sleeping bag as I was simply too cold with just my duvet. At Tongariro it got down to 2C, and it seemed the same at Rarangi a couple of nights ago.

I have a gas heater which fills the van with hot air in about three minutes flat… when it’s working… which unfortunately… it isn’t. The igniter has gone AWOL, and there’s no ‘McGyver’ fix I can apply. I tried to get it repaired in Lower Hutt, but unfortunately the guy didn’t have the spare part in stock, and it would take a week to come in. It was right then that I decided to get on the ferry. If I had to hang around somewhere for a week, then the Marlborough Sounds was far more inviting than Lower Hutt. I don’t want to be rude about Lower Hutt… I’m sure many people find it has exactly what they want, but unfortunately… it has nearly nothing that I want. Whereas I could happily hang around Nelson for ages.

I was on the boat at the next sailing.

Writing this post at Ngakuta Bay

Writing this post at Ngakuta Bay

Where I am now, I am looking across a big inlet in the Marlborough Sounds. I see lawn leading to beach and water, boats, jetties, more boats, bush clad islands, and misty hills. I can hear the gulls, and the occasional clanking of shackle against mast… and nothing else. I can’t see any buildings, and I can’t hear any traffic or commerce.

The water occasionally splishes and rustles as a shoal of bait fish is chased up to the surface by some predator. Shags take advantage of an easy meal, and snatch lunch from the surface. A dolphin has just cruised in and out of the bay… and I am the only person here to enjoy it.

If I could stay here overnight, I would.

I can stay just a couple of km’s down the road, and I might do that (signal permitting)… we’ll see. After all, it’s my birthday, and I might just treat myself to a day parked on the sea-shore overlooking Anakiwa.

Nelson can wait another day.

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