I got up at 5:00 am just to make sure I could use the bathroom I shared with Val and take a shower. Passed up shaving today. Put luggage in car and had nice breakfast and visit with Pat and Frank Forde, our hosts, around 6:00. On the road promptly at 6:30 and to the airport before 7:00. Had some confusion as to where to leave the Hertz keys and paperwork that caused me to backtrack a couple of times, but it all worked out. Then we sat in the terminal until 7:30 when the pilot and another person from Stewart Island Flights appeared. They stored our big luggage, weighed what we were taking with us, and weighed us for where we were to sit on the plane.

It’s a high fixed-wing aircraft. Two seats across with doors everywhere on both sides since no aisle. Very narrow and not much head room. Seats 8 or 9 and they also take a lot of cargo back and forth to the island. Nice hop, skip, and a jump flight since it’s about 40 km from airport to airport. In Invercargill, they used a grass runway for this plane. On Stewart Island, you land on a chat runway in the middle of nowhere. So, there is a van there with a luggage trailer and the people and luggage going back to Invercargill. Van takes you into the harbour of Oban. Then a van from Stewart Island Lodge picked us up for the uphill climb to our lodgings.

Very nice accommodations. Have a deck right outside our three rooms. The rooms have all glass fronts, so there is a view over the harbour. Rained off and on all morning. I actually pulled out my Kindle and looked up Stewart Island on both the tour books I had downloaded to see where they recommend eating, shopping. We have a full schedule of touring with Ruggedy Range which we planned to start with a driving tour from 3 to 5.

Rain just got harder and there was a very stiff wind. We donned appropriate clothing and wended down the very steep road to the harbour. We had wanted to go to a particular restaurant, but the wind and rain were blowing so hard we went to the first one we say – South Seas Hotel. It was good. Mussels!

After lunch we walked uphill into the rain to the Ruggedy Range office and cancelled this afternoon’s tour – too windy and it looked like it’s going to rain and blow all afternoon. Supposed to clear off tonight. Hope so, or the Ulva Island all-day walk will be cancelled. I returned to the lodge before the other three since I was getting too cold and have been fighting a cold ever since Mt. Cook. Made myself some hot green tea.

Then it got sunny. Not less windy, though. So, we did the driving tour that was supposed to be from 4 to 6. Charlotte was our driver. We first went to Observation Rock where we looked down on Patterson Inlet and could see Iona and Ulva Islands. Then over to Vola Bay with it’s three islands: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Down by Mill Creek we saw a bunch of oyster catchers. Then, when she pulled over so we could take a pix of a kiwi sign, we got stuck in the mud. Stuck. Back wheel spinning. No way out. She called the home base and in about 20 minutes the boss lady came with a truck and pulled us out. Furhana, the boss, was apologetic and said we’d have another hour on Saturday or Sunday to complete our tour. To end this part of the tour, we went to Lee Bay where we saw the other anchor chain sculpture that is supposed to link the South Island to Stewart Island.

Charlotte dropped us off at the Church Hill Restaurant & Oyster Bar where we had a dinner reservation. I had the local oysters in a tempura batter. Some of the best oysters I’ve ever had. Then it was a walk down a steep street to the harbour level, across the harbour, and up our very steep street (steepest on the island) back to our rooms. We got back around 9:00, and the sun doesn’t set until about 10:00, so plenty of wonderful light out there for more pix. I’m up over 8,000 so far.

Some thoughts:

·      Their school year is over now … it’s summer. They are on break into February. So, it’s the summer holidays for family.
·      And then there is Christmas in the summer. Odd. All sorts of decorations around the towns and shops.
·      It’s been colder altogether than any of us thought. Most days I’m in four or five layers since you can move from somewhat warm to downright chilly in minutes.
·      I have not seen a place to buy either the kind of soaps I like or the Hobbit stamps or coins. Too bad on both of these things.

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