Easter Weekend… not so much chocolate* – more bike rides, ferry trips and wildlife walks…
*to be fair, the ferry gave us some MaltEaster Bunnies too.

After three full weeks at work (and previously having been working freelance and part-time), it really felt time for a break… With it being a long weekend, we wanted to make the most of it – but also hadn’t planned too much in case the weather was bad.

Inevitably, Good Friday was mostly a write-off (with a little bit of freelance in there for good measure) – but well worth it!
As it turned out though, the only day the weather wasn’t great was Friday, which worked out well!

The ‘duvet-day’ for Friday meant by Saturday, I was wanting to head out and do something though, so:

Bring on the Pencarrow Bike Trail.

Pencarrow isn’t too far from home, just a couple of kilometres along the coast in Eastbourne.

Picture – Panoramic across Wellington Harbour, with the new Pencarrow lighthouse to the left.

What makes it different though is the limited access road that weaves around the coast, past the new lighthouse and then leads around and up via some lakes back to the old lighthouse.

It’s quite strange to see the two lighthouses in such close proximity – one on the top of the cliffs, and the other on the shore – and reading some of the history makes it more so…

Apparently, it was built and shipped in pieces from England, then put together on site in Pencarrow. This original lighthouse was actually one of the first permanent lighthouses built in New Zealand.
Because of it’s positioning on the cliffs above the coast, the light could sometimes be obscured by the fog… and so a lower level lighthouse was built.

What I found interesting though was that the cliff-top lighthouse wasn’t actually decommissioned until almost 30 years after the new lighthouse was built – obviously having two lighthouses seemed safer than one!

The old site on the cliff-top is now just used as a ‘day mark’ (for navigation during sunlight hours) and was restored by Heritage New Zealand in 1980.

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Pencarrow trail

The new, lower-lying, Pencarrow lighthouse
Biking around the tracks
The old Pencarrow lighthouse, up on the cliffs
Cycling across the hill tracks, around the lakes
Stunning views across the water, with the trail we took to the right
Proof that Jen and I made it to the old lighthouse
Looking down from the lighthouse, and back around Eastbourne coast
Trail road for the way back…

Day-Tripping to Picton

Picton is what the Kiwis call the “Gateway to the South”, as it’s the first place you arrive in to the South Island if you catch the ferry across from Wellington. It was an early start to catch the ferry just after 8am, and we arrived in Picton just after midday.

This was my first experience of the South Island, and everyone I’ve met  keeps telling me that, “it’s so much more beautiful and picturesque than the North”… so I’m glad to say my quick peek at it didn’t disappoint!

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Our first views out over the south island, as we travelled through The Sounds
After a picnic lunch on the grass, facing the Picton harbour, we headed back around (about 500 metres) to the EcoWorld Picton Aquarium.

There were a variety of animals there, including a rescued blue penguin (in recovery), several sting-ray, turtles, and some lizards that must have provided inspiration for How to Train Your Dragon’s Toothless…

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Poor penguin in recovery… falling over :/
*Thanks Jen for the much better close up of the blue penguin, and the stingray.
The inspiration for How to Train Your Dragon’s Toothless…?
Long-necked turtles…
And a hermit crab, trying to decide whether to move home or not…
One of the other reptiles in Picton is the Tuatara, the ‘living fossils’. Known as such because the species has survived over 200 million years, since the dinosaur era. Tuatara are indigenous and only found in New Zealand.
Considering how long the species has survived, the Tuatara are now endangered – as the species has been massively threatened by rats (both native to NZ and brought over on European settler-ships).
Living fossil – Tuatara in captivity
As the Tuatara are on the verge of extinction, there are huge conservation efforts to breed them in captivity and also provide safe, rodent free islands to re-release them onto…

And one of these conservation initiative areas was our next stop.

Kaipupu Point Sounds Wildlife Sanctuary…

We took a small (water-taxi-style) boat out to the Dolphin Bay jetty, within Shakespeare Bay, which serves as the entrance to Kaipupu Sanctuary, where we had just under an hour and a half to wander around.

Panoramic view across Picton, from Kaipupu
Although we took a boat there, the sanctuary is actually part of the mainland, but it’s separated by a ‘predator proof’ fence (dug in so nothing can get under, and high enough things can’t climb over)… This means that it’s got some great wildlife there – and plenty of bird song to listen to on the wander around. We took it easy and wandered some of the sanctuary track before settling to watch the boats and the birds drifting across the Sounds.
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*Again, thanks Jen for the additional photos!
View across Shakespeare Bay, after the boat dropped us at the Dolphin Bay jetty
View from the peak of Kaipupu…
…where there was a well-placed break point, for us to put our feet up and just enjoy
After our relaxing sanctuary, we headed back to Picton, took a quick wander around the town, and then settled in the harbour-side park with ice creams, while waiting for the ferry back.

Although we’d seen plenty of the Sounds on the trip to Picton, the trip back was really cool as the sun was beginning to set behind a lot of the islands…

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Pictures – Views from the return trip, back across The Sounds as the sun was setting.