(This is the first of two blogs in this bumper, end-of-year, edition).
We are ending the year ‘tramping’ on Stewart Island, which lies off the southern part of New Zealand in the Southern Ocean. I think I can confidently predict that wherever we go from here during our ‘gap year’ will be north from where we are currently located!
We have travelled to this remote paradise with Sally’s sister and brother-in-law with whom we spent Christmas too. New Year’s eve will see us back in Oban which is the main (indeed the only) town on the island after a three day tramp through the relatively unspoiled bush.
Stewart Island is also one of the few places that kiwis survive in the wild but so far they have proved elusive. Mind you most wildlife had remained elusive to my untrained eye as I stagger along under the weight of my rucksack consumed with thoughts of which bit of me hurts the most, rather than taking time to look around! I guess that is a pretty good metaphor for how a lot of us spend our lives. 🙄
At the first hut we stayed at I was somewhat alarmed to hear the ranger tell us that unlike Alaska where he comes from we wouldn’t find any beer in New Zealand. I was also puzzled as to why everyone else thought that was good news until I realised they were talking about bears (at times the Kiwi accent is quite impenetrable). I then became alarmed once again to discover there wasn’t any beer either, so we are tee total until New Year’s eve. ☹
We also took time out to visit an even more remote island, Ulva, which is alive with bird life that is largely protected from predators such as rats and possums and other man-introduced imposters and hence innocently inquisitive. You spend all day creeping around trying to get a picture of a weka and one comes up and pecks you on the boot while you are talking on the beach! Kiwi are less sociable though.
Words cannot really describe how special this place is so here are some pictures instead. We wish you a happy New Year and hope you will stick with us on our journey through 2018 (and maybe even join us for part of it when we take to the canals back in the UK).
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