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A Day In The Marlborough Sounds

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Rebekah Joy
Rebekah Joy

People always ask me....what can I do in Marlborough?....I cough...mutter something about the ferry and vineyards and change the subject. I must confess that even though Picton was only an hour and a half from Nelson, and even though I used to be a professional travel writer, I had no idea about our mysterious neighbour. That was until Thursday when I was invited on a boat ride through the Marlborough Sounds with ‘The Sounds Connection’ ( Connection to what? I wondered as we boarded at the civilized hour of ten am.

We cruised around the little bays and coves that make up the sounds. The sea was a delectable green jelly and batches jutted among the rockery and tree ferns, their rickety piers and jetties a marvel. Most of the Marlborough batches are accessible only by boat making the jetties a must. But only in New Zealand would these structures be permittable. Some of the old holiday homes were quaint and untouched since the fifties, resembling houses you might see on a Norwegian calendar. Of course a few were entirely ostentatious not unlike something seen in the Hamptons, A few were perched so ridiculously high that we were left wondering how they were ever built. Whatever the style, we all wanted one.

Further along we spied quite a few stingrays in the clear waters hovering around our boat. If the weather had been kinder we could have dropped a line, but rain was threatening so we zipped across the waters to Lochmara Bay. Now I had heard of Lochmara but never been there, so this was quite a treat.

The bay was stunning.

Long ropes hung down from drooping trees, kids swung around over head like Tarzan. There was a fish nursery at the little pier and people were hand feeding the baby cod. This was our first introduction to the Marlborough Sounds Wildlife Recovery Centre, a place that protects fish, penguins and birds and is part of the lodge.

Nestled in the Queen Charlotte Track, the Lodge is a peaceful affair built amongst some magnificent sculpture trails. Lochmara Lodge ( is an impressive establishment considering it is in the middle of nowhere. We clambered ashore to the warmth of an open fire and the promise of hot hearty food and strong coffee. The place is full of art, mosaics and curiosities, a haven from the extremities of nature.  Our party dined on mussels, octopus, beef burgers and fish and chips. Dessert was brownies, carrot cake or giant muffins. The wine was first class and the coffee exceptional. Outside somebody played pentique, the hammocks lay empty but a bunch of backpackers sat around the fire swapping stories on  the Queen Charlotte Track. Eavesdropping I discovered it could be walked or mountain biked. One Dutch traveler had even kayaked from Picton. We were tempted to stay over, the lodge supposedly has excellent facilities and apparently even a Bath House that offers luxurious and therapeutic treatments. But time was short and our friendly captain was waiting for us, he had another group to take on a winery tour.



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