Day 120...Making Friends

Tuesday 23 February

There was lots of activity in the campsite over night.  People were coming and going to see the kiwis late at night and enjoying this wonderful place.  In the morning I wandered down to the beach to sit and watch the calm ocean.  I saw the sun start to light up the day and I watched a man at the waters edge doing his morning tai chi ritual.  I sat for over an hour just sitting and watching the day wake up, the beautiful sounds of the birds awakening, it was a joy to be able to be there and part of this time of the morning.

Soon I wandered slowly back up to the campsite to get some chores done.  Washing and scrubing the grime and salt from my gear, cooking myself breakfast & today I treated myself to bacon and my famous crispy damper bread.  Oh it was joyous, I sat in the doorway of my little tent in the sun and enjoyed every mouthful.  I listened to people getting sorted for their hiking and talked with a few people from home about yesterday's paddle.  Soon I was sitting getting my battery packs recharged, organising to catch up with the wonderful Pip for a coffee and a chat, she is another gorgeous local lady with such a cool outlook on life.  Her wonderful husband Ian was the one who stopped to check I was okay on the water yesterday in the big swells.  It was a day of catching up, meeting locals and sorting out how to nail the last small section of Stewart Island so I could truly say I had been around the entire coastline.

I had studied the weather for the next little while and decided on this small paddle for tomorrow, then head back to Bluff to plan my Fiordland trip.  I have been told I need a great three day weather window for the start of my leg, so while the winds look bad that way I am on other discoveries, I will talk with as many locals as possible to gain some of their knowledge, it has been invaluable on my journey, I have learned so much.

Back to my morning, once I left Pip I headed off to see Dave at his greenstone carving workshop, what a talent and true passion this man has for this amazing green gorgeous stone.  It is a true passion, we talked so much the day was slipping away form me, I had llots of others to try and see today.  Off I went and very quickly located Phil, a Stewart island local who loves kayaking.  I spent more time with him talking, learning, hearing great paddling stories and about other things he is involved with in the community.  We meet in this cool little cafe, with this very cool couple running it, I loved their humour, it was awesome.  l I had not started on my electrical stuff, Nat would laugh at me, I really need help on these days when I am needing to sit and charge stuff and also get out to see people.  Quickly back I headed to get it underway in the communal kitchen lounge area of the back packers.

Then I got chatting again to my mates the kayakers, they are heading to Pegasus Bay for a two week paddle and discovery of this gorgeous lagoon.  I shared my beach and pull in locations with them and then wandered down to see them load there kayaks onto the charter boat for departure in the morning.  They were getting a lift to Pegasus and then exploring once they got there.  Maybe, just maybe I could disappear off the radar and go back with them!  As we chatted at the wharf and waited on their departure two large common dolphins arrived and swam close by, what a lovely surprise.

Then I headed up to see Matt from the water taxi about my mission tomorrow.  I was paddling from Oban to Black Rock to complete my Stewart Island circle, then I would turn and paddle back down the coastline to Christmas Village.  Foveaux Strait is looking too ugly to cross, Matt is going to pick me up down the coastline a bit.  Unless a miracle weather change happens I will not be doing a double crossing, I am going to use this bad wether window to study the next leg, and get ready for Fiordland.  I am off to meet more people.  Stewart Island has amazing fresh clean water, well actually the best water in New Zealand, they bottle it sell it to raise money for the community.  I had offered to help for a few hours tonight with this process.  I was on labelling the bottles duty, we bottled and labelled 1000 tonight while chatted, thanks guys for the invite, thanks for sharing and being so welcoming.  See you all over the next few days.

My day has been totally fulfilling with so many smiling moments.  Anyone who has not been to Stewart Island you must visit!  If I had to rate this place 100% is not enough, Stewart Island makes me feel alive.  I have sat and chatted for way too long tonight in the kitchen with a group of young tourists, their comments about our amazing country are eye opening.  They love our country and I as a New Zealander need to hear what they say and see how they look through their eyes at our beautiful country, they think it is stunning too.

My smiles today:
I smile about this entire day from the start to the finish.  Absolutely awesome. THANKYOU Stewart Island, Oban you rock.

My thoughts today:
Real people, real opinions, real passion, it is a blessing to be part of this moment.


Grant and Mike, ready for an adventure.

Grant and Mike, ready for an adventure.