There was a soft start to the day.
River fog curled down the valley from the headwaters of the river. Our house is far enough up the hill that we can look down on such happenings, and enjoy the beauty of the sun on the mist. Those who live at lower altitudes are less pleased when it happens, and their world goes grey.
We could see that the day was going to be a good one, so Mary had packed a splendid picnic lunch (Who can find a good wife, for her worth is far above rubies. Prov 31:10) and we decided to go to Ngawi and Cape Palliser. We took the back road from Featherston towards Lake Ferry, bypassing Martinborough. This took us across the Ruamahanga River which was putting on a display of tranquility worthy of a chocolate box.
As I was folding up my tripod on the road bridge, a puttering below signalled the passage of this improbable group. Were we being invaded, I wondered? The DPM camouflage suits suggested a military operation, but common sense prevailed … it was a duck-shooting party with brush strapped around the boat so as to create a floating hide. I am told that the duck shooting season starts in the first Sunday in May and lasts for three months.
We drove along the beautiful South Coast, through picturesque Ngawi and Mangatoetoe to the rocky outcrops near the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. There, to my great delight we found the resident colony of New Zealand Fur Seals (Arctocephalus forsteri) . This is one of several nurseries where the females raise the pups until they are ready for the sea. The rock pools were full of seal pups swirling, frolicking, fighting, playing or sleeping. There was a lot of splashing and barking, and I like to think, the seal equivalent of childlike laughter.
Despite the jagged rocks the pups clambered to the most improbable places and were very curious about these strange creatures around the edge of their pool.They seem to present a variety of appearances and in this case, the largest most liquid brown eyes I have ever seen.
In other phases they seem less sleek and when they are just snoozing in the sun. they are still a delight to watch.
After our most excellent lunch, we drove back to Lake Ferry and Onoke Spit. Despite prominent signboards about the unpredictability and danger of large waves on the steep coast, these youngsters were playing tag with the crashing waves. If the worst had happened, who would be blamed? We drove up to Martinborough and enjoyed a good coffee in one of the many coffee houses in the town, and then joined the traffic back over the hill to home.
It was an excellent day.