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  • Writer's pictureFiona Wardle


Updated: Jan 10, 2022

There’s a definite theme running through our tour of the Marlborough Sounds; Remoteness.

Staying at Waitata lodge located in the outer Pelorus Sound you will get to experience the remote lifestyle first hand. Surrounded by nature with no neighbours in sight; unless you count the little blue penguins of course, your hosts Debra and Michael will happily share with you their story of how they came to live and work in the outer corners of the Sounds, including bringing up their 3 boys in the bay!

Throughout the 5 days you will have the opportunity to meet many locals; all of whom have different reasons for chasing this way of life.

For me one of the most memorable visits of the tour was going to Bulwer (once a seaside depot for ships in the 1800s) and popping in for a cup of tea with Sandra and Phil McCauley.

With a two hour drive on windy gravel roads to reach the main road and then another hour to Nelson, the couple tell us they don’t often visit the “Big smoke” but as they explain, apart from the odd doctor’s appointment there isn’t much need to.

The day we visited was wet to say the least but that didn’t stop us exploring the small seaside settlement, with the McCauley’s sheep hot on our heels. The pet pig on the other hand persisted on joining us in the warmth, inside!

At first, life seemed that much more simpler but living remotely of course does come with its own challenges as they discussed with us throughout our stay.

What you may find most surprising is that all of whom we met, despite having very few if any neighbours, thrived on the groups company!

One thing that connects all the remote inhabitants we met over the week is the Pelorus Mail Boat. Operating out of the small town of Havelock, the service of delivering mail by boat has been running for more than 100 years. Despite its name it’s not just mail that is delivered by the boat; gas canisters, grocery supplies and even animals are regular cargo.

After having lunch with the managers of the Port Ligar Farm we watched the mail boat glide on into the jetty, sometimes escorted by the local bottlenose dolphins. We kept an eye out for any splashes; it wasn’t to be this time!

We notice the manager's dog (who was already admired by the group) got excited as the boat came into dock only to find out he to got a special delivery from the crew on board, a scrumptious dog treat!

I’m not going to lie, as it became time to make our journey back to civilisation there was definitely a tinge of envy for the remote and unique way of life I had come to learn of and experience!

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