Saturday, 31 May 2008

Matiu/Somes Island, Wellington (31st May 2008)

Matiu/Somes Island is a scientific and historic reserve just a short trip away by ferry from Queens Wharf (Wellington). In the 7 years that I've been here, I've never visited this island and I've made it one of the items in my "to do" list for the year. Have been trying to get on the Saturday ferry to the island but haven't had a calm, fine Saturday so far. Boy was I happy when I got up at 8 this morning to see the sun shining brightly with no wind! Quick, quick, pack up and go! I was meant to organise a trip with a bunch of friends to visit the island together but as the trip was weather dependant, it was quite difficult to schedule when everyone was available - sorry guys! Didn't deliberately leave you all out...

On a fine day, Wellington is such a beautiful city to be in :) It was about 14 degrees Celsius today but I still had an extra sweater and my jacket on in the event the weather changes during my time at Somes Island. Photos taken at the harbour on my way to the ferry:














































































At 10am, I hopped on The Dominion Post Ferry to the island. Cost me $18.50 for an adult return ticket and I had to decide which return ferry I was getting back on. Was told by the lady behind the ticket counter that since I was going on my own, 2 hours would be more than sufficient for me to walk around the whole island. So that means I get on the 12.50pm ferry - sweet!

Matiu/Somes Island has served as a human and animal quarantine station, an internment camp and a military defence position. The island is pest-free so on arrival, all visitors had to check their bags for unwanted pests in the quarantine building located next to the main wharf. According to the ranger, they once found a dead mouse in a visitor's bag - apparently the visitor's cat was notorious for putting dead mice in its owner's bags. Eew...After about 10 minutes and a briefing of the island, visitors were free to explore the 24.8-hectare island on their own.

I began my little exploration through the Circuit Track where I walked all around the edges of the island, stopping to snap photos and just enjoying the peaceful sound and smell of nature (I felt as if I was back in Tasmania!). Photos taken at Somes Island: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605367382643/detail/

It was a lovely walk even though by the end of my 1-hour walk around the island, my socks were damp (yuck!). For those of you planning to come here, several key things to note:

1) visit the island on a fine day and make sure you wear good walking shoes, have enough clothing to keep warm and cope with rain and/or wind, a spare pair of socks would help too
2) pack your own food and drink as there are no catering facilities on the island
3) bring along some hand sanitiser or disinfectant to clean your hands - there are toilets on site but only at the main wharf and visitor/field centre
4) bring a rubbish bag for your own rubbish - you can take only photographs and leave only footprints on the island

It's worth the visit for those of you who haven't yet been there!

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