Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NZ Sth Island - Pt 4 Stewart Island

Day 8 (Sunday) - Lazing about on Stewart Island

Today we really do sleep in. We're all pretty exhausted. Sometime thismorning we need to walk down and hire a car for a bit of an exploration. We're keen to go on the underwater viewing cruise around the bay.. and of course the only unpleasant task is that we have to sort out the Rakiura Retreat side of things and return the key, which we had been unable to do the night before as the manager was out. Presumably at a pantomime being held by the local community.

The weather is a bit rainy but with clear periods. Tui are calling and going about their business in the garden. I grab for the camera and snap a photo through the glass of one tui who is perched conveniently on a shrub. Magnificent birds! I can see why you see them used as logos around the place.
When they see activity in the house the local Kaka come around on spec and stand on the balcony railing with a question in their eyes. We learned last night when a kaka came around that the preferred offering considering the birds health is fruit. Daughter produces an apple and we offer slices to the Kaka who is soon joined by another. These two don't appear to be particularly fond of eachother and keep themselves well separated. We sit feeding the kaka; admiring the tui as they sit displaying themselves and calling on the top of the garden shrubs; and admiring the view across halfmoon bay. We're in no hurry at all to go anywhere. Kowhai Lane is the epitome of cosy comfort.

There is a range of DVDs provided that cover topics of local and regional interest. Iris has given us a complimentary DVD on Stewart Island experience when we arrived, so we have a look at that.
Sis is particularly keen to do some washing while we have a couple of days in one place so she's calling for people to bring out their dead.

Though it takes all the will power we can muster, eventually daughter and I take off on foot down the hill to the waterfront. First things first we head for the Stewart Island Experience office and aquire a car so we can move mum about. It's a comfortable walk from Kowhai Lane down to where the action is so most people would be able to either do without a vehicle or just take a very short term hire when they wanted to get to places a bit further out independently. Conveniently this is also where you book your tours, so we book on the 1:30 Underwater Explorer.

The car is perfectly adequate, but we are a bit concerned to find they put a room freshener through all the vehicles. The transfer van yesterday had it too. Luckily the weather is OK and the car has windows and the trips will be short. Mum might need to cover her nose with a hanky but we'll manage.
Next stop the supermarket for some milk and basic supplies, and as has been something of a trend we buy some kiwi varieties of things. Ah, chocolate fish! This is the first place I've come across them. I buy us all one each. And blocks of coconut rough chocolate. WHY is this being taken off the market in Aus? Maybe a bit mean to buy their whole supply.. we leave one on the shelf (but end up buying that tomorrow.... we have some coconut rough fans at home, so we need some for souvenirs!).
We bite the bullet and drag ourselves around to return the Rakiura Retreat key. We pass lovely little inlets and bays along the way there and stop on the return trip to take advantage of a fine period and take some photos. After all who knows what the weather will be like later. A pair of paradise shelduck are moseying around on the grass so we add them to our bird photo collection before returning "home" for some continued lazing around in the luxury of Kowhai Lane's snuggly sofas.
For lunch we decide we might sample some more offerings from the Kai Kart. We rather enjoyed the jam wrap, blue cod and mussels we had last night. We're sluggish in the extreme though and on Stewart Island noone's in a hurry. Daughter orders some steamed blue cod. I go for the mussel patty and we buy jam wraps all round. We are advised that it's the last of their mussel patty mix and as there is a bit more mussel patty mix than is required for one, they will make us two small patties for no extra cost. No worries we say. As departure time for the cruise nears I get increasingly anxious and take off to the wharf. It's a delightful short walk across to boat.

Iris was to drop mum at the wharf after church. I really hate being late for things and make our apologies to the crew. I hear about Mum's visit to church and the delicous salmon patties and mayonnaise Iris brought for the supper. Mum is keen that we should get the recipes from the Sails Ashore website.

Daughter and sis aren't too far behind me fortunately. We climb down into the lower decks of the boat and settle in. Most of the food is left in the car but the mussel patties are brought along as they smell wonderful and daughter figured that it wouldn't keep as well as the other stuff.
While waiting at the wharf we peer out the windows to see huge brittle stars on the sandy bottom, sea tulips aplenty and medium sized fish, which if memory serves are called spotties. The visibility isn't all that great but it isn't long before we're casting off and motoring out into the bay, hunting clearer water. The water rushing past the windows is the closest we'll come to experiencing being in a washing machine.
As we travel I take a sample of the mussel patty. Urrgh. That's horrible!! but I figured I better eat it.. I can only put it down to the fatigue - and the fact that I thought it cost $8.50. Those Scottish forebears coming through I suppose, plus I was still in shock at the cost of resolving our accommodation disaster.
Daughter and sis are all a flutter and I'm a bit alarmed and emabarrassed at their continued mirth and give them some concerned looks. I have to wait until the cruise is finished to get a full explanation. Turns out daughter and sis tried the other patty and nearly choked. One taste was all it was getting. Sis doesn't generally do mussels, but the patty smelled SOOOO good. Daughter pulled a fairly restrained face and gave a shake of the head to indicate she didn't advise Sis having a try.. but that smell was just too good to resist...Sis went ahead and put a little of the patty in her mouth. Daughter, for whom a smile and laughter is never far away, cracked up. Sis's eyes had opened wide, her face had turned beet red and her cheeks puffed out. Stuck in a submersible and nowhere to spit. Nothing for it but to swallow, and then the entertainment of watching sis try to recover her composure.
Finally we all settle down to enjoy the passing fronds of bull kelp and occassional fish, kina (sea urchins), and starfish. Daughter saw something that shone silver dart back in amongst the kelp. Just a glimpse but she said it had that look that animals get when they are underwater and the air is trapped by their fur. She thought it must have been a seal, but our guide thinks that is unlikely. It is a very different marine environment to what we have previously seen. Despite what seemed to us to be quite poor visibility we enjoyed what we did see.
Along the way I start to feel a bit woozy. Fortunately it's only a short cruise (45 mins) and we are soon back at the wharf and heading for the car.
The first thing daugher says to me with a smile in her eyes is "what did you think of that mussel patty?"
me: "it was pretty horrible"
daughter: "Did you eat it?"
me: "yeah it was horrible but I ate it"
daughter: "You ATE it??!!... you're kidding!! She ate it!!" Hysterical laughter
sis: "You ATE that? I can't believe you ate that!!" Astonished face, she looks around at daughter for comfirmation. "She ATE it!!"
more hysterical laughter. They are doubled up and can hardly walk straight.
I change the subject. At least I thought I was changing the subject.
"How did you find the cruise. Being down in the dark underwater I started to get a bit seasick"
Laughter and open mouthed shock. They stop walking. "That wasn't seasickness - that was that mussel patty!!! you've never been seasick in your life!" More hysterical laughter. They're doubled up again.
Well I tell you I doubt I will EVER live down having eaten that mussel patty. When tales are told and reminiscences indulged in, that mussell patty will be one of the favoured holiday stories I am quite sure. So we can be grateful for that I guess. It turned out it WAS the mussel patty that made me a bit crook. Fortunately only moderately crook, and my body dealt with the problem asap, but my stomach was feeling a bit fragile for quite a few days after... and the very thought of mussels brought a very deep and insistant call at the cellular level - NOOOOOOO!! So no more NZ mussels for me this trip! ... or anyone else actually. We just couldn't face it. Daughter couldn't even stomach the mussel that came in some nice chowder.. and BTW daughter told me later that the patty only cost $3.50. If I'd known it was only $3.50 I definitely wouldn't have eaten it... which I guess is pretty stupid and funny as well... at least daughter and sis think so :o)

On the other hand the steamed blue cod from the Kai Kart, though it had been left waiting for quite a while was absolutely delicious. The best fish and possibly even the best food daughter had on the whole trip. She reported it was SERIOUSLY good. We have since discussed the delicious blue cod. Daughter has indicated an intention of trying to see if she can find any here in the fish market or somewhere. I mentioned that maybe she shouldn't as I understand it may be being over-fished. Daughter's face tells a story of internal struggle....finally she says "well it shouldn't be so delicious." Pause. "It should adapt so that it's flesh is less tasty." Maybe so, but it doesn't seem likely the Blue Cod can do that in time to escape predation by man any time soon.

Back in the car and the weather is fine so we figure we should take the opportunity and head across to Lee Bay and the entrance to Rakiura National Park. We drive slowly up into the National Park and see sweet little tomtits flitting in the bushes at the edge of the road. Daughter and I continue for a walk out to Little River while Mum and Sis adjourn "home" for a rest. We pass the anchor chain which we understand has a matching connection over at Bluff. This is, of course, a reference to Rakiura (Stewart Island) being the anchor for Maui's waka.
The walk is through lovely bushland liberally endowed with tree ferns. We spot a small plant of what we know from the videos was used as bushman's paper. In the guestbook at Kowhai Lane someone has written their comment on the back of a leaf and it's really astonishing what effective paper these plants make. Also used for toilet paper in rustic conditions the white back of the quite thick and substantial leaf is like soft white flock.
Having enjoyed the beautiful coastal views we arrive at Little River. A little disappointing to note the signs that say not to swim here due to upstream contamination from human waste, but it's a very pretty spot and the whole walk whets the appetite for some more extensive tramping around the island - which we have neither the time nor the energy to do. A shame we have only a couple of days here. Towards the middle of the beach a stream of water crosses the sand and with the mix of black and gold grains creates beautiful sparkling patterns. I head across to the rocks on the far side of the beach and pick up one or two, but didn't find much.
Carefully replacing the rocks as I found them, reluctantly I turn back. By now the clouds have retreated and it's beautifully sunny, bringing out the beautiful blues in the water that the staff at Real Journeys had predicted.

The coastal vista has expanded under the sunshine. Back at Lee Bay we wander down onto the rocks for a little fossicking. Not much joy at the western end so we amble across the sand, enjoying the sunshine and the tui calling as we head for the rocks at the other end of the beach. It's not too hot, not too cold. Is there anything more restful or restorative than a slow walk along the sand with gentle waves lapping at your feet?

The fossicking proves more productive here, though once again there's not a huge profusion of obvious sea life. We find more of the false crabs ( a favourite food of ... was it bream??) and a larger crab of more feisty temperament - the first crab I've found that seems to need to be treated with a little more caution.

The time for our collection nears so we wander back up to the road. No sign of our ride, so we end up deciding to start walking. Better than sitting waiting and lord knows we could use the exercise after all our kiwi junk food sampling. We enjoy the birds flitting back and forth. Eventually Sis arrives with the car and we head back to collect mum and head down to the Sunday Night quizz night in the South Seas Hotel, which henceforth will be referred to as "the pub". Persons of squeamish nature who are offended by strong language need not attend.

Down at the pub we grab a table and order some drinks from the bar. The delightful Vicki leads the quizz and wanders around registering teams and engaging in good natured ribbing with all and sundry. We have to think of a team name. The younger of us unanimously like "The Bitchin' Blow Ins" but mum is squeamish. Worried about her reputation. She's been told that if we return everyone will remember us. Maybe they don't use "bitchin'" in that sense in NZ. We don't really care, and honestly, given the language being hurled around in the pub is it likely anyone here is going to take offence?.. but we don't want mum to feel uncomfortable so unable to come up with anything better we give our name as the "something downs".. as we had to put something down... groan.. We get our sheets and note that there is two sections of questions that deal with pantomimes. Uh Oh. Never been to a panto in our lives. Don't like our chances there. We nominate the section for which we want double points. No hesitation. We've got both mum and daughter along. Science and Nature please. :o)
Every now and then there's a "what am I" clue thrown in. Excitement as daughter is sent leaping from her chair to line up to offer our solution to Vicki. YES!! We got it!! At least one of the pantomime sections is simply anagrams of panto titles, so we don't do too bad on that... though we were never going to get Dick Wittington let's face it.
We have made a booking in the restaurant of the hotel for 7:30 - the latest time available and the staff think the quizz should be over by then. The quizz finishes and there is an adjournment while the scores are tallied. We've got no choice but to duck next door and ask if someone could fetch us when the results are being announced. We peruse the menu. Daughter goes for the seafood chowder; Sis goes for the ribeye steak while mum and I go for the pork belly which is stuffed with peaches and comes with a blackberry and apple sauce. With Sis along you can bet we also went for some pre dinner breads. I've made no note about the bread at this place, but I can with confidence report that it was excellent. If there's one thing kiwis seem to do very well it's the bread course. We didn't strike a dud bread course anywhere.

We're chomping away and all of a sudden Sis lets out a cry. She has an alarmed/excited look on her face and is fishing something out of her mouth carefully. "Are you OK??? What on earth's the matter"
"Oh god, what's that? That's it. That's it" she cries... I guess we all looked rather confused.
Sis's excitement continues. "no really what's that?" She has a small leaf on her finger. As we peer at her finger and the bounty it displays she explains - "this is the flavour that was in my salad at the Green Dolphin. What is it?" We look around on her plate and find the rest of a sprig of lemon thyme. Mystery solved, but just to be sure Sis asks the waitress to check with the kitchen. - "What is this herb in the salad?" Yep Lemon Thyme. "Oh my god" she says. "That stuff is delicious. Can we get that at home?"
"Yeah. It's easy to get to grow at home." Comes the unanimous reply. I forgot to mention in our adventures at the Green Dolphin Sis's love of this mystery ingredient and her quest to discover it's identity. Well, mystery solved. Sis is happy as a clam. She apologises for the gauche behaviour, but she simply had to find out what it was and it was the only way she could do it.

The call comes through from the bar that the results are in. We leap from our chairs and dash next door, just letting our waitress know we'll be back in an minute. We're not the only ones and several restaurant tables are momentarily abandoned. Well, well. You could have knocked me over with a feather - our team came second on an evening exhibiting unusually high scores. Over 40. Phew. Iris warned us that their guests are required to come in the top three. At least we can face Iris tomorrow! What a great night. Everyone in the room was made to feel welcome ie everyone in the room was fair game for ribbing. At some stage there was a tube that came around for people to put money in which would be directed at some worthy cause on the island so we emptied all our change into the pot. We had a really great time.
On a bit of a high we resume our place in the restaurant and proceed to sample the dessert menu. Irish cream cheesecake; Mud cake; and with a reputation to protect I go for the yoghurt lemon cake. All were nice enough. We get to chatting with our waitress. Turns out she's a Tamworth girl married to a kiwi.. and we think maybe a bit homesick. We ask if she's seen the aurora. Not yet. We have a nice chat for a while, then it's off home to bed.

Day 9 (Monday) Ulva Island; some excitement and a quiet night.

Today we are scheduled to go to Ulva Island about 11 am. Overnight and on waking it's a bit rainy, but soon the sky clears and the weather is beautifully fine and still. Just before 8 am with everyone lounging in their pjamas, there's a knock on the door and Peter is here suggesting that we get while the getting is good as there's a weather change forcaste that may interfere with our plans if we go to the island later. Iris stops by to collect us about 8:30 but we wait for mum to finish on her nebuliser and we set off for Peter and Iris's yatch Talisker upon which we will make the trip. We clamber aboard and it being fine and Paterson's Inlet like a mill pond, we sit out the back as Peter fills us in on the island and the area and points of interest.
We disembark at the jetty and mosey on up to the old post office while Peter moors the Talisker off shore. A weka is fossicking about on the sand near the jetty and is making its way over to us. It climbs up to the path and wanders around our feet. Not a bad start to our visit!! We meet Peter at the old post office, which is on the only private land on the island and which Peter and Iris look after for the owners who are long term family friends. This land was granted freehold in the early days and then the owner lobbied to have the rest of the island made a nature reserve and was successful. The private land was and is managed to conserve nature so is pretty much an extension of the national park. Imagine having this as your holiday home!! We wander down along an old nature trail before emerging back on the main path where we meet a delightful robin. The robins were in the habit of following along behind the moa and eating whatever tasty prey was uncovered by the moa's footsteps. Having evolved on an island that was pretty much predator free they are completely unafraid of us and hop around our feet as Peter encourages us "come closer come closer, they are not afraid of you". We continue chatting about the island and it's creatures and suddenly there's a bit of robin argy bargy. Another robin has come over and it's on for young and old. We watch (and video) the robins for a while and eventually they move off into the bush and we get on our way. But not so fast we cannot appreciate some particularly lovely lichens along the path.

We were hoping to see some of the rare indigenous orchids and we are not disappointed as Peter draws our attention to several tiny little ground orchid flowers growing by the path.
We have been hearing the saddlebacks calling as we've walked. Eventually Peter stops mid sentence and draws our attention to some saddleback activity nearby. We watch. We aim or bins. We stand with camera poised. YES!! There it is! It's hopping about that tree. As we watch the saddleback comes shooting across the path, seems to bounce off a large branch and leap across to a new position where it pauses briefly before it drops to the ground and forages intently in the undergrowth flinging leaf litter about with great enthusiasm. Wonderful!!

The rainforest is a profusion of tiny flora. There is an extravagance of elaborately shaped and coloured lichens and mosses. They smother the rotting fallen timbers and curling branches of the forest with superb artistry.

In her close examination of these small features of the forest floor daughter is chuffed to find for herself some more of the dainty little orchids. Without rats and deer these little beauties are reviving on Stewart Island and are popping up all over the place.

Lancewoods too are finding life a bit easier. We stop to consider the features that seem tailor made to cope with the feeding habits of the moa. We come across some examples of juvenile foliage juxtaposed with mature foliage. Interesting.

As we pause to examine a master artists collage of lichens on rich red bark another robin stops by to see how we're going and make sure we've managed to get an appropriately flattering portrait.

Among the tiny UlvaIisland flora is one little fellow whose leaves are like tiny prickles on the end of an enlarged stem that mimics the leaf but of course is not. It has tiny little fruit. This is a very ancient plant variety.
It reminds me of the wattles back home, many of which have flattened stems or phyllodes rather than actual leaves. So much pleasure is gained from an appreciation of the tiny beauties with which Ulva island abounds.

Some kaka are sitting fairly discretely in a nearby tree. Peter draws our attention to a large old tree of a somewhat contorted structure. This is the elephant tree and upward of the trunk-like branch extending down to the ground there is a large burrow-like hole. Quite near the base of the tree. This is just the sort of spot kaka like to nest. Terribly vulnerable. No wonder they struggle in an environment over-run with crafty mammalian predators.

We have been hearing along the way about the strategies employed to both rid the island of rats and mice and the ongoing measures required to keep it free of them. We are shocked to hear that they get a new infestation of rats about every 12 months, so it is an ongoing fight to be able to provide the saddleback and other glorious birds with a place they can live in safety and relative security.

We round a corner and start to head down some stairs when Peter stops us and demonstrates the mechanism of a trigger orchid growing conveniently near the path. The orchid sets and resets this trap intending to catch insects who, in struggling to free themselves will pollinate the flower. Once pollinated the flower is of no further use to the plant and it will shrivel.

Emerging from the shadow of the forest we find ourselves at a place Peter suggests we should feel at home. It, like our home town, is named for Viscount Sydney who was the British Home Secretary at the appropriate historic moments. Offshore we can see the Talisker sheltered from a fairly stiff breeze that has blown up.

Taking our ease enjoying the sunshine and the golden sands a weka with her nearly grown chick potter about close around us and across to a picnic table in the shade. The weka are fairly new introductions to the island and as a predator bird are providing some entertainment for the other species re-establishing on this precious sanctuary island.

With a sigh we start to head back to the wharf. The wind is rustling the tree tops, but down among the forest floor is it protected and fairly still. Mum and Sis head back along the lower path while daughter and I head up via the lookout. As we walk we listen to the call of what I guessed might be bellbirds and this is confirmed when one conveniently exposes itself to us just long enough for an introduction. A portrait would be stretching the friendship!
At the lookout the view across Paterson's Inlet we see the results of the wind. It's going to be an interesting crossing to get home!

Boarding Talisker, Peter seats mum, sis and daughter on one side and myself on the other. I get the fun of being on the high side as Talisker leans in the water as we motor across to the sanctuary of Golden Bay. The wind is howling in the rigging and white horses break across the bow. Plume dashing against the glass and washing down over the seats and into the channels provided to manage the wash. It's blowing at somewhere between 50 and 60 knots perhaps. Peter is verbally reassuring and calm but is looking serious. He's seen it much worse than this in the inlet. Talisker handles the conditions beautifully and for us it just seems like a joy ride and wonderful to experience another mood in the inlet. When we were leaving the island we asked about what happens if you go across in a small water taxi and something like this blows up. The water taxis can cope in similar conditions. Though much more and they would have to wait until it blows itself out. Fortunately this doesn't usually take long, but in the event that it's persisting they would get Peter or another larger boat to go and retrieve the people on the island.

Conditions are calm in the protection of the bay as we pull in alongside the wharf. One of the local ladies is waiting with an anxious expression to enlist Peter's help to retrieve a yatch that has slipped it's mooring and is being driven onto the rocks on the other side of the bay. With apologies Peter secures the Talisker enough to keep her safe, quickly launches his IRB and goes screaming across in the direction of the errant yatch. Is it on the rocks? Looks like it. It belongs to a young local couple who are not around today.

As we watch the entertainment Iris arrives with some delicious biscuit slice and apologies that we are stuck on board until Peter comes back. No worries as far as we're concerned. We're perfectly comfortable and have ringside seats in a demonstration of minor maritime heroism. You couldn't pay for entertainment like this!

In a lull in the action we admire the effect of the wind on the bushland of the headland opposite. The trees and shrubs are waving creating a pulsating effect of greens and dark red brown. Another display of nature's beauty we feel privileged to witness.

There's another couple of boats working with Peter to secure a tow line to the yatch and pull it clear of the rocks. They tow it this way and that. It vanishes for a short while and reappears. Finally it's heading our way for mooring nearby. Undamaged. Wow! lucky they reached it in time. Peter boards the Talisker and our disembarkation resumes. We've had a wonderful day with Peter on Ulva island and again, been just unbelievably lucky with the weather.

We climb into the Sails van and after dropping another local lady home, Iris drops us back at Kowhai Lane. It's about 2 oclock. Late for returning the car. We give Stewart Island experiences a call and extend the car until 5 oclock when we can head down to the pub for dinner.

We chill for a while then head down to the Fernery for a look. This is a gallery/shop and the signage suggests it is associated with Ulva's Guided walks. I'm a bit over it and wait in the car while the keen ones go and sus it out. They can let me know if I need to go in. It's the briefest of brief time before daughter is waving me on in. The Fernery really is worth the visit. They have quality souvenirs. Beautiful limited edition art works, wood pieces, books, pottery. All sorts of interesting things. On their book shelf we find a long searched for treasure. A children's picture book called "The Great White Man Eating Shark - a cautionary tale by Margaret Mahy". "Oh my God, look!! They have NORVIN!! YES!!" Sis and I each buy ourselves a copy. The story known as Norvin around the family is about a young boy named Norvin who gets irritated by the crowds at the beach. Norvin is "a good actor, but rather plain. In fact, he looked very like a shark. He had small sharkish eyes, a pointed sharkish head and sharp sharkish teeth." If you doubt a person's ability to look decidedly sharkish you need to watch the Australian ABC. They have an occassional news reader who I swear is the real Norvin grown up. Anyway Norvin decides to make himself a plastic dorsal fin and pretend to be a shark, thereby scaring everyone out of the water so he can have the beach to himself... it's a very funny book and a long time favourite in our family. We are THRILLED to bits to finally find it in print and in stock. EXCELLENT!! Now if only we could find Dreadful David Dee (about a boy who is into experimenting with his chemistry set.) and Susan Shouted Shark (another cautionary tale). This quest gained a new urgency as mum reveals to daughter that she has loaned her copies of Dreadful David Dee and Susan Shouted Shark to someone and can't remember who. WHAT!!! OUTRAGE!!! This is a huge huge loss if we don't get them back. They constitute some of my kids fondest childhood memories of time with Gma. They have all put their hands up for inheriting them. Daughter is more upset than she shows and cannot believe that her Gma would lend someone these precious family heirlooms. Mum is confident she'll get them back, but we know what it's like when you borrow a book. The borrower forgets who is was they borrowed it from and the lender who they lent it to.. it's a hopeless situation in most cases... anyway, in the unlikely event that someone reading knows where we can get one or more copies of Dreadful David Dee or Susan Shouted Shark PLEASE let me know! (both books are by Henry Schoenheimer and Raymond Smith).

But I digress. Fond of humorous kids books Sis also grabs a copy of Mia the Kea. I buy a copy of Tangaroa's Gift about how the paua came to have such beautiful colour. I also cannot resist a limited edition print of a beautiful painting of a tui. The kaka's have been fun, but the stand out bird of Stewart Island for me has been the beautiful and melodic tui. It's hard to find things that do the tui justice but this painting does. There are also very lovely pictures of fantails and rifleman in similar style. I am sorely sorely tempted to get all three, but I have not yet seen either of these birds so I leave it at the portrait of the tui as my chief Stewart Island souvenir. We are being served by Ulva and she tells us that tui have two voice boxes and this is how they produce the range involved in their call. Wow!! Really! .. and there are Riflemen nesting by the beginning of the path on Ulva Island. Oh. Shame we missed those. Oh well, we had a great day there with Peter just the same.

Reluctantly dragging ourselves out of the Fernery, daughter and I drop mum and sis at the pub and return the car. We opt for bar meals at the pub where it turns out if you like you can order from the restaurant menu. Daughter goes once more for the blue cod. This time beer battered. We are advised that the restaurant version is the better value option for the the amount of fish we're asking for so mum can just share rather than have to get through a whole meal. Excellent. That's what we wanted to try really anyhow. Sis had a steak and I opted for the hamburger. All the meals where nice but the fish was the standout. Lovely.

We notice there's internet access for $2 for 15 mins in the bar. We've not been able to contact our other halves by phone so we take the opportunity to email and let them know we're still alive and having fun. All business done, daughter and I walk back to Kowhai Lane for the exercise. Mum and Sis get a ride with Iris, who kindly offered to collect mum after dinner... have I mentioned what a lovely lady Iris is??

We chill in the evening watching a documentary about the Titi Islands and the project to eradicate the rats there which was recommended by Peter. It was indeed very interesting. The project was funded as part of the restoration required after an oil spill in the US. The shearwaters affected by the spill nest on the Titi Islands and so they figured fixing up their source breeding ground was the best way to make up for the loss of birds in the oil.

Finally after a very full but relaxing and interesting day we reluctantly head for our beds. Just one more sleep on this lovely island where we feel so welcome. I am so glad we included Stewart Island in our trip.

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