Entry for March 14, 2007 Frenchmen and Glittaratti.
March 10, 2007
MARLBOROUGH Sounds is one of the quiet marvels of New Zealand. At the northern end of the South Island, rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age drowned an ancient river valley, creating a series of sheltered coves, peninsulas, islands and channels, and a paradise incarnate for anyone who enjoys messing about in boats.
On a map it looks like a half-completed jigsaw puzzle, the pieces of land gradually separating into islands as they stray into Cook Strait. As well as being staggeringly beautiful, Marlborough Sounds is blissfully empty. Although parts of the sounds have been cleared for farming or forestry, just a few hundred houses lie scattered along its 1400km of coastline. Exploring the sounds is possible only by boat. Unless you have a boat of your own and a week to spare, the way to see it is aboard the Beachcomber mail cruise. Every day except Sundays, the mail cruise catamaran departs from Picton, deep inside Queen Charlotte Sound, and makes a half-day cruise delivering mail and supplies to houses around this filigreed waterway, most of which are only accessible from the water.