Monday 17 July 2017

Real Journeys Stewart Island cruise Day 6: Goodbye to the Milford Wanderer

There was actually a bit of cruise left today, and it began with a real treat: we were woken up well before 6am with the Tallyman song ("Dayo, dayayayo...") in order to go find ourselves a kiwi. Real Journeys runs Stewart Island's regular evening kiwi-spotting outing, but this was a special just for us. 

We were tendered over to Little Glory for a walk through the bush to the other side where Ocean Beach is a regular haunt for kiwi feeding on sand-hoppers in the washed-up kelp. Rustling along in the cold dark in all our wet-weather gear, we saw nothing in the bush, but on the beach found a big female busily prodding her beak deep into the sand.

The last time I did this, exactly on this spot, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera because in fact, as it turned out, I could have got some photos of a torchlit kiwi. This time, I had the camera but couldn't use it because Jen, the DoC lady, was very fussy about the red flash of the focus light. What I was wishing I'd brought this time were my binoculars since, if they're good ones like mine, they actually work pretty well in dark conditions - so I learned when I briefly borrowed someone else's. Maybe, third time, I'll get it right. But hey! We saw a kiwi! Main thing.
After eggs benny we were out again, this time in the kayaks at Port William, one of the many foolishly-planned and soon-abandoned settlements of the late 1800s. All that's there now is a lovely bay surrounded by apparently untouched bush, the sea clear and blue against the white sand on the bottom, an inviting suspension bridge over a tannin-stained river, and lots of swirling kelp.
Then it was time to pack up all our dirt- and water-expanded clothes and get tidy again ready for our return to civilisation. As compensation, Stef served up his best lunch yet: tasty chicken and delicious vegetables, plus interesting salads and a truly great ceviche dish of local blue cod caught by Captain Chris. And cheesecake.
And then it really was over: we were back at the wharf in Oban, goodbyes said, watching the Milford Wanderer steaming off right away, racing off to the fiords for its next cruise ahead of a predicted storm. Everyone had written in the Visitor's Book, universally glowing recommendations and thanks to the crew; only a few of us [*cough*] succumbing to the temptation to refer to The Incident.
The Foveaux Express bustled up and very efficiently uploaded, transported and downloaded us to Bluff, where the waiting bus spread us around Invercargill never to meet again. Probably. It was a really good cruise, all the better for being so thoroughly Newzild in location, participants and philosophy. 

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