Matiu / Somes Island

Taking advantage of a sunny day, I finally made it out to Matui/Somes Island – which is the island that sits in the middle of Wellington Harbor. It was one of my Wellington must dos, and I had not made it out, and with my time winding down, knew this might be the last nice day for it, so I paused my writing flow, packed a picnic and set out to catch the ferry to the island.

You can learn more about the island here:

The island has a fascinating history, as it has served as a quarantine station, military outpost, interment camp and now wildlife refuge. The island gives the opportunity to discover nature by traveling along various tracks, and I ended up walking on each track on the island and extending my stay there because it was such a lovely day, and I was enjoying my tramp so much.

When you arrive on the island your first stop is the quarantine station, where you check your bag and shoes for bio-security risks. Once cleared, you are able to start exploring.

As I walked, I was immediatly greeting with stunning views of the harbor, Eastborne and Petone.

My first stop was the cemetery monument.

Between 1918 and 1920, Somes Island was used as a human quarantine station during the influenza pandemic, and many died on the island.

I trekked along from the Monument along Cable Bay to the lookout over Shag Rock. Birds, flowers, skinks and Tuataras were plentiful. I felt like I had the island to myself, as everyone else had headed to the visitors center first.

From the overlook I headed to the lighthouse, stopping to check out the Weta Hotel.

Those are some gargantuan insects!

Then I enjoyed the lighthouse, before beginning my trek to the Southern Lookout – I am pretty certain I took a million pictures – it was so pretty!

Here at the southern lookout, I realized that I was not going to have time to see everything I wanted unless I booked the later ferry back, so I called the company to secure my seat on the later boat, giving me more time to enjoy this peaceful oasis.

My next stop was the old WW2 gun emplacements, so I went up the “steep track”. Along the way I got the opportunity to observe the amazing fantail, which may be one of my favorite NZ birds.

Then, at the gate, I made an interesting observation about the weathering of the gate.

I wonder how many times those pieces of wood have been slammed together?

At the top, I explored the gun casings, and just genuinely enjoyed the views, pulling out my lunch for a stop at the picnic table.

I headed back down to the visitor area, where I explored the animal quarantine station, which felt an awful lot like animal prison – which, I guess, it was, in a way.

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After that it was down to the visitor center, where I learned about the other uses of the island, particularly its use as an internment camp during WW2 and the attempted escapes.

Next, I wandered back to the wharf, and with time to spare, checked out the old degaussing station, and listened to the stories of Meg Pilcher, (a fascinating lady!)then to the North Wharf before leaving the island and heading home.

I am so glad I had this beautiful weather to enjoy this amazing sanctuary!

Ferry to Days Bay, Walk to Eastbourne and a combined Ash Wednesday service

Free from the weight of the ethics proposal, and the temptation to “review it one more time” – I decided today to sleep in, then take the Ferry across the harbor, from Queen’s Warf to Days Bay – my first boat on the harbor.

(Credit East by West Ferry Website)

This East by West Ferry also stops at Matiu / Somes Island (a predator free scientific reserve) which will be a hike and a post on another day when I have the whole day to explore- so you can look forward to that!

I bought my ferry ticket, and had some time to kill before catching the ferry, so I explored more of the waterfront area (my favorite part of Wellington on a pretty day!)

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It was a glorious day for a ferry – and a day for a hat and sunscreen as well!

The ferry ride was gorgeous – I sat on the top deck and probably took 5000 pictures – I have culled them down a bit for you. I also made a new friend on the Ferry – 3 year old Alice, who  had all sorts of questions – and was especially intrigued by my southern accent. She was on the Ferry with her grandparents, and I loved the tips and pointers from them of things I should look forward to exploring in  my time in New Zealand.

I disembarked the ferry, said goodbye to my new friends, and then just set out to explore. I decided to wander to Eastbourne along the shore, and just enjoy the day, the sounds of the sea and the sunshine.

It was a beautiful walk – and if you look at the pictures, I have added to the list of possible homes for Merry (in my dreams – I can’t even imagine the cost of a waterfront home here!) (Actually they are usually just cool architecture I notice – I am coming home, on July 19th)!

After walking to Eastbourne and finding a little cafe for a coffee, I headed back to catch the Ferry and then went to to the Ash Wednesday service at St. John’s in the City – which was a neat service, combined with St. Mary of the Angels, the Catholic church in Wellington which has been sharing the church space due to a massive seismic strengthening following an earthquake in July of 2013. The two churches have been “sister congregations” in every sense of the word since that time (and maybe before, I am not completely certain). It was a lovely service, and I enjoyed seeing how the music, ministers and congregations came together physically and theologically for this service to kick off lent, and was quite glad I made it to the service. I could get all church geek about the service, but I won’t – however, it made me happy to see such ecumenical cooperation.

(Credit St. John’s in the City website)