The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 2 (June 1, 1932)
This descriptive article, and the photographs, taken by the writer, supply the answer to a question that thousands of New Zealanders will be pondering over during the months that lie between now and next summer. Spring, after all, is never very “far behind,” and summer dances in on swift feet. Make up your mind in time.
“Why not the Marlborough Sounds?” said the attractive little pamphlet they gave me at the Tourist Bureau. It said a lot more, although I did not read it. But I looked at the pictures, which are always so much more important than the letterpress—hence the vogue of the illustrated article. And looking at the pictures, I echoed, “Why not?” After all, it is not everybody's luck to do the Milford Sound trip, and I have always steadfastly refused to believe there is but one wonderful walk in the world. All I knew of Marlborough was what I had seen from the dust-blurred windows of a car in the Royal tour, dashing down the Blenheim-Nelson road at fifty miles an hour. One should never be in such a hurry as all that to get away from a place!
So we boarded the Tamahine at Wellington, and ploughed out into foaming grey seas in the teeth of a tearing southerly. Three hours later we caught the gleam of sunshine on the South Island, and pretty little Picton stretching out along the waterfront at the foot of high, dark hills. We bundled ourselves and luggage into the Torea launch, and for nearly three-quarters of an hour chug-chugged placidly up the steel-grey waters of Queen Charlotte Sound. At sunset we tumbled out again, scrambled into a lorry, and dashed off up the hair-pin bends to the high ridge of the hills that divide Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. At the top we caught fleeting glimpse of a handsome monument “Where the Sounds Meet,” to the memory of all the men of the Sounds who fought and died in the War. An instant later we were hurtling down another series of zig-zags to the Portage, on Kenepuru Sound, where we boarded another launch. Out into the dark we chug-chugged once more. Evidently St. Omer, our destination, was one of these rather exclusive spots a little bit off the beaten track. The impression was strengthened when we finally came to a stop somewhere out in a bay, and found we had to tumble out once more, this time into a dinghy.
“Well, thank goodness, this is the last lap,” I muttered, as the oars splashed down into the dark waters. But it wasn't. St. Omer is really exclusive. We crawled carefully out of the dinghy in the darkness on to a trolly, disposed of our legs very carefully, and trusted that all was indeed going to turn out for the best in this best of all possible worlds. Next instant we were being drawn, page 37 by some invisible force, through the lapping water towards a light on the shore, and so, by successive stages of steamer, lorry, launch, dinghy and trolly, came thankfully to journey's end. I don't know if all this was duly set down in the tourist pamphlet. If so, I am glad I did not read it, as preknowledge would have destroyed something of the fine sense of adventuring we all felt as we huddled together hugging our knees on the trolly, hoping the rope would hold. Our host told us later the trolly-idea was all his own, enabling guests to come and go at low tide without any of the usual difficulties. And the sight, later on, of hilarious parties of picknickers whizzing hoop-la down the rails to the waiting launch, was indeed one of the most enjoyable innocent diversions of our stay at St. Omer. Always one felt, with a thrill of inward excitement, the rope might not hold! But it did, even to that last memorable climax, when a departing guest forgot a basket of eggs, and this blameless cargo made its whizzing solo flight out into the deep.
Our two weeks holiday sped swiftly, bringing a sense of renewed well-being, and wider appreciation of a little-known and delightful holiday resort.