Saturday, 30 October 2010

Matiu/Somes Island (30th October 2010)

Was up at 9am and the weather looked bright and sunny outside so I suggested to Jono to go for a walk today to make the most of the good weather. Wellington weather has been really nice of late, most days a warm 15-18 degrees and sun shining from as early as 6am (though it can get darn annoying when I’m trying to sleep those last few hours before getting up to work). We decided to go check out Matiu/Somes Island since Jono has never been there before and for the next hour, we quickly got ready and packed up sandwiches and fruit to bring along with us to snack on (there is no shop/cafĂ© on the island).

Around 11am, we caught a bus into town and did a bit of shopping on the way to Queens Wharf where we bought tickets and boarded the East by West ferry to Somes Island. Normally cost $22 per person for an adult return fare to the island, we saved on our second fare, all thanks to our voucher from the Entertainment Book – 2 for 1 fare! Sweet :)

Where is team Brissa aka Ben and Rissa?? It was already 12pm and the ferry was due to leave but Ben and Rissa were no where to be seen. They hadn’t called or texted us to say they weren’t coming so must be on their way…hey look, there they are! Hurry up, guys!! We’re leaving NOW!

Hmm, the weather forecast was meant to be sunny but it’s now overcast – I want the sun! Us four sat on the top deck of the ferry despite the slight chill chatting away during the 20-minute ferry ride and there were many other passengers, both local and foreigners on board as well, all heading to the island. As you are aware, Somes Island is a scientific and historic reserve, a small island that is rat-free and home to many native plants and wildlife including the weta and tuatara, and the rangers who are based on site. Hmm, hopefully we’re lucky enough to see tuataras today (I didn’t see any in my last visit to the island back in 2008)…

All visitors were given a short briefing about the place by the ranger and we had to do a self-check to make sure we didn’t accidentally bring with us a rodent onto the island. One of the visitors wore hiking boots that were absolutely covered in dried up mud – the man had to scrape of the cemented mud with a nail given to him by the ranger before he was allowed another step into the island. Another key thing to note when preparing your visit to Somes Island – no dirty shoes!

We began our trip around the island having our picnic lunches at the benches not far from the wharf, followed by taking a casual walk along the Circuit Track to check out the lighthouse and gun emplacements, snapping photos along the way. There were lots of kakariki (red crowned parakeets) playfully chasing each other, a variety of skinks that scurry in the grass when we got too close (everyone knew I must have spotted a skink when they hear me scream in disgust every time I come across one – yuck!), giant seagulls and plenty of native plants. No tuatara in sight today :/

The ranger had told us earlier that there is a flock of sheep on the island where the gun emplacements were and that if we went to the area, we were supposed to leave their ‘lawnmowers’ alone. “There’s an inner sheepdog in everyone – please don’t go chasing the sheep,” warned the ranger. Oh, too bad for the boys then as I had totally pictured them chasing the sheep in my head when the ranger mentioned the sheep, knowing these two misfits. We were just sitting around watching the sheep graze on the grass, not a care of our presence, when Jono accidentally dropped his SLR camera lens which rolled down the hill towards the sheep, causing us to run for the lens and in turn scared the whole flock of sheep in the process! This had nothing to do with our ‘inner sheepdog’ – it was purely an accident!! The poor sheep…though it was a really funny sight, I must say…hehe…

The 45-minute return Circuit Track ended up being a walk of about 2 hours and we finally left the island on the 3.10pm ferry back to Wellington. What a fun day spent at Somes Island with our friends Ben and Rissa :) Photos taken today here

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