A Week at Picton

This was to be five days with our 50+ walking group, leaving home on a Monday morning for Havelock to meet up with the rest of the group. Just out of Havelock we turned off towards Picton on the Queen Charlotte Drive, stopping at Ngakuta Bay for morning tea. After that, most started to walk along the fairly new Link Walkway, heading towards Picton. Drivers of the cars then set off for Picton, parked the cars and then headed back along the pathway to meet up with the others at The Wedge arriving just five minutes late. We all then went down a short track to a World War 2 lookout and signal station. Not much remained, just some broken concrete foundations here and there.

Seating arrangement on the Link Pathway.

A good spot to have lunch with a view out down the sounds though.  We then headed back to the cars and Picton. This Link Pathway is fairly new with the idea of having a walking track from Picton to Havelock following or linking the different parts of the Marlborough Sounds, via some old bridle paths, and the Queen Charlotte Track. Each group walked about 11 km and then we were off to the Waikawa Bay Holiday Park to settle in for our stay. 

Barnes Dam.

Barnes Dam & then over the Tirohanga Track

The next day was a walk up the Essons Valley track to the two dams that supplied water to Picton. Some of the group went to the Humphries dam while the rest went to the Barnes dam. The walk was through native bush following a pipeline with a good selection of native plant species. The Barnes dam itself looked to be leaning downhill but they said it was an optical illusion. It still looked to be sloping the wrong way to me. It was a pleasant walk even if one had to be stepping over the water main pipe all along the way to the dam. Once back at the cars we then walked up the nearby Tirohanga Track to the lookout for lunch with a good view looking down on Picton, the inter-islander ferry wharfs and the Picton Harbour in Queen Charlotte Sound. We watched one of the inter island ferries berthing too. 

One of the ferries berthed: from the lookout, Tirohanga Track.

The Wairau Lagoons 

A good sunny day for the next walk around the Wairau Lagoons and estuary just south of Blenheim. 

The rivers must have run directly out to the sea but over time, with waves building up sandbanks resulting in many lagoons, salt-marsh flats and swampy areas like it is today. No doubt the area has been changed by earthquakes and glacial activity over time too. 

Looking over the saltmarsh, Wairau Lagoons.

A great food garden at certain times of the year for birds although we didn’t see too many different species during our late autumn visit. There is a sewerage treatment plant with the usual settling, cleaning ponds nearby. 
There are walking tracks across and around the flats and we took the track that went directly to the wreck of the rusting hulk of the Waverley. Here we stopped for lunch after passing large flocks of finches, which seemed to be yellowhammers mostly, feeding on grass, sedge and rush seed-heads.

Kingfisher resting.

We also saw pied stilts, welcome swallows, white faced herons, some gulls and terns, harrier hawks, black swans, paradise and mallard ducks and some shags. Some shags were fishing in a group. About 20 to 30 or so, roughly in  line and moving in the same direction. Diving they would all go, popping up 15 to 20 metres further downstream. A quick rest (and maybe swallow a fish) then repeating the diving as they worked their way down the river.

Black swans take flight in the Wairau Estuary.

The TSS Waverley was built in Auckland in 1883, then 92 tons net and 93 feet long but was lengthened to 112 feet in 1887. She was a coastal ship serving ports around New Zealand but mainly Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson and the West Coast it seems. In 1928 she was towed to the mouth of the Wairau river to be sunk to form a breakwater, but before being scuttled, a flood washed her up where she now lies in the Wairau Lagoon. I couldn’t help wonder that after 90 odd years so much of the old ship remained. 

The wreck of the Waverley
Inside the Waverley

Walking the Snout Track

Next up was a walk along the Snout Track. The Snout is a peninsular that juts out into the sound from Picton to beyond Waikawa. It is mostly native bush but there is quite a lot of noxious weeds too. At least the mountain bike track was separate from the walking track. We had morning tea at a look out point and watched the inter-islander ferries passing below in Queen Charlotte Sound.  

The ferries come and go.

The track continued  down hill to the end of The Snout, while some of the group went down, the rest headed back as rain clouds loomed across the sound. 

The Devil’s hand reaches out?

The next day we came home via the Queen Charlotte Drive. 

Making Use of Leftovers art?
Making Use of Leftovers art?
Jug Art?

May rainfall at our place was 155.5mm (monthly May average 126mm)

The June website visits seem to average about 30 to 45 visits per day. From Russia, USA, UK, Australia and NZ this month.  Some looking at the photos, some the stories, many the Richmond Diary and photos plus the odd person checking out the making trap tunnel instructions. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *