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The Dream Of Bones

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Having a bach in the Marlborough Sounds a magic experience

An interview with Eleanor

Dorothy - 10/09/03

A view of the bay with a pohutukawa flowering in the foreground
A view of the bay with a pohutukawa flowering in the foreground
The Bay of Many Coves right opposite Tory Channel and Arapawa Island, always seemed to Eleanor and her husband and family a truly beautiful place. They spent a holiday in their uncle's bach in Honeymoon Bay, and they dreamed of owning a house in the area. They took their children there and had a camping holiday. The bay can only be reached by boat - a half hour trip - so they bought a boat and kept it on a mooring in the bay in the summer and in storage in Picton during the winter. They kept admiring a bach in in the Bay of Many Coves, but doubted whether it would ever come up for sale. Then nearly twenty years ago they had the chance to buy it - a dream come true!

The family spend as much time as they can in the bach, especially in the summer months.

Fishing from the wharf
Fishing from the wharf
What do holiday makers do in the Bay?
"Fishing is a very popular pastime for those in the bay," said Eleanor. "Everyone has a favourite fishing spot. At our favourite spot we can almost guarantee that we will come home with enough for a meal, although getting a good catch is not as easy as it used to be. The fish we like best is the blue cod - pakirikiri The regulations insist that only the large fish should be taken - a very good thing. If we can't get blue cod we can usually get sea perch - matuawhapuku, which are delicious when they are fresh. Some people go diving and catch crayfish and occasionally paua. Sometimes the granchildren fish from the wharf."

Eleanor and the family especially enjoy walking, swimming and boating.

The men fillet the fish 
The men fillet the fish
Walking from The Bay of Many Coves
"For us in the Bay of Many Coves the Queen Charlotte Walkway is a bonus as a steady one hour climb from the bach takes us to the Walkway. The problem about walking in the Sounds, unless you are on the Walkway, is that it usually means all up or all down, but we have a track from our bay to the next. This gives  us a walk of thirty to forty minutes without a steep climb, " Eleanor explained.

  Kayaking in the bay
Kayaking in the bay
The Queen Charlotte Walkway
Many people start the walkway at Ship Cove at the outer edge of Queen Charlotte Sound - a fascinating place for those interested in history as Captain Cook visited there. A two-hour walk through beautiful bush takes them to Resolution Bay. From there it is three to four hours walk to Furneau Lodge in Endeavour Inlet. Then the walk goes round the head of Endeavour Inlet and on to Punga Cove - another resort offering accommodation. The Punga Cove track follows the hilltops behind the Bay of Many Coves and Ruakaka and Blackwood Bays. From the top there are wonderful views of Queen Charlotte Sound to the south and Kenepuru Sound to the north. The track follows the tops until it reaches Portage and Anakiwa.

People who don't want to carry heavy packs can put them on the boat and have them taken from from one stopping point to the next. There is a choice of good accommodation at resorts or homestays, and places are provided for walkers to pitch a tent.

What else draws the family to this bay so often?
"For us the remoteness and quietness of the place have a very special charm," Eleanor said. "Native bush with nikau palms and tree ferns grows around the bay and is full of birdlife, with tuis, bell birds and wood pigeons, and with moreporks calling in the night.

Looking over the bay and the Sound to Arapawa Island
Looking over the bay and the Sound to Arapawa Island
"On the water there are paradise ducks. Occasionally orcas have appeared in the bay and sometimes we have had the magic experience of swimming with dolphins or watching them playing beside the boat. The stars at night have a special brilliance undimmed by city lights and close to the door of the cottage there are glowworms. Our cottage is near the beach, but the other cottages are further away and we can't see them from our place, which increases the feeling of isolation.

The lifestyle in a typical New Zealand bach
"The lifestyle takes us back fifty years, as ours is a typical New Zealand bach from that period - the sort now often replaced by modern homes. We have made some improvements, but we value the special feeling we have about its being a bach. It has grown room by room. The first owner began with one room and added to it stage by stage.

"We take up our gas supply and cook on gas in the oven and on the hobs. We have a gas fridge-freezer. We have a generator for a 12 volt electric system which we can use, but we often just use gas lamps, old Tilley lamps, kerosene lamps or candles. We sometimes light candles when it grows dark, but we don't use them in the bedrooms as we think it is too dangerous.

"We have made improvements since we bought the place, especially in the toilet which has progressed from a long drop to a norski which is a flush over a long drop. It is all built in and functions well. We have to go a short distance outside to reach the toilet. but as we are there mainly in summer we don't mind.

"For our hot water we light the old incinerator and one of our regular jobs is gathering dead manuka and chopping it up. We can't use driftwood in the incinerator because of the salt content, but we use it on the open fireplace. There are jobs to do to keep the place functioning, so we don't just sit about and laze all day . One of the nicest things about the bach is sitting by a fire in the open fireplace built with river boulders around it. This is not just a sterile holiday house, but a place with character, atmosphere and a lifestory."

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