Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Marlborough Sounds

In 1975, I purchased a block of land in North West Bay, in the Marlborough Sounds.

It was pretty remote; about two and a half hours by boat from the nearest road at Havelock. But very beautiful, with a fast creek running down a steep escarpment and a couple of peaks, about 800 metres high. The one on the right is called the 'Devil's Staircase'.

We were friends with a family who were also in the NZ Values Party, the world's first Green Party. Patrick McGrath was a competent builder, and we went into a shared arrangement whereby the McGraths helped us develop the site in return for shares in its ownership. First we put a wooden yurt on the site, and later a cabin.

Brendon McGrath and Dave climbing the Devils Staircase in about 1980

Yurt and cabin with Patrick. 1980.


Cabin 2018. The yurt has gone.

Our current trip around the South Island meant that we could revisit the bach in the Sounds, and Sean McGrath, the middle son of the family, kindly took us down there for a couple of nights.


Faster these days

Drone shot of the cabin from above. Massive regrowth of tree ferns everywhere.

The yurt was destroyed in a gale, but there is an elegant sleepout to replace it.

Cabin, sleepout and Devil's Staircase

Flightless weka

George by the creek

The same creek, 1979

Dave nostalging

It was quite powerful to revisit the site after about 40 years, and recall all the work and fun that went into creating a home in the wilderness. It was lovely see that it had flourished, and that the bush had regenerated so beautifully.

We went back to the McGrath home near Nelson and had a fun evening with the family. Patrick tragically has severe Alzheimer's. Patsie is a bundle of fun.

Patsie in her garden.

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