Queen Charlotte Sound

Captain Cook is more than just a household name in New Zealand – he is admired, revered, even loved.  Everyone, it seems, knows some of his story.  His biographies are prominent on the bookshop shelves, and there’s a new one coming out later this year.  Cook has been credibly described as a genius – for his technical navigational skills his scientific acumen and his extraordinary seamanship. He was one of those enthusiastic thinkers and doers who seem to have abounded in the eighteenth century – and they appreciated him. The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) four-part documentary was being re-run while we were in Auckland, which is how I know all this.  Thank goodness!  We caught two parts of it, and it is absolutely rivetting stuff.  Though the acting is a trifle wooden, and the material on his wife tries to fill out absent detail with mawkish speculation, the information itself  is  marvellous and really well presented.  The descriptions of his closing years and death in Hawaii are moving, and very credibly analysed.  There’s a trailer for the series on youtube:
And if you know a bit about Cook (1728-1779), you will never be short of conversation, should you meet a New Zealander.  The BBC summary of his life is good – though it minimizes what he did in New Zealand and emphasizes Australia.
I didn’t know much of this back when I booked the ferry from Wellington to Picton (en route to Nelson) – I was just trying to travel overland (and oversea?) as much as possible, seeing lots of the country at close quarters and avoiding the un-green activity of flying. (I am guilty of far too much air travel already).  So you can imagine my delight to discover that Picton is at the southern tip of Queen Charlotte Sound, Cook’s favourite anchorage of all time.  He even travelled across half the Pacific to get there, on one occasion.  Quite why isn’t clear – people say it was such a good, safe anchorage, where he could rest and repair his ship.  But it does seem like an awfully long way to go – I can’t help wondering whether there was more to it than that.  Maybe when I get around to reading the biography I’ll find out.

entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound - that little notch between the hills

The ferry here has already crossed Cook Strait (yes, him again) between the North and South islands  and is already within the Sound.  Its route sweeps in westwards, and then turns sharply into Tory Channel.  This picture was taken looking back towards the North (or maybe more like the North East), and you can just see the curve of the wake, outlining where it has travelled. 
I was trying to check the actual compass points for you on a map when I came across this marvellous photo of Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound, taken by Phillip Capper (I found it on Flickr).

 All the world was fresh and glorious: as delightful as if it (and I) had been newly created.  It was a Monday so there were not many people out and about.  I was lucky to see one little sailing boat slipping along.  

There are seals in the Sound, but although I pointed the camera at them and it went click, they are quite invisible in the photos.


(No – this is not one of my ‘find the seal’ pictures.  I genuinely can’t see it – you just have to take my word that it was over by the little sailing boat, and visibly eating a fish.  I could almost hear the crunching.)  You could draw your own seal into the picture, if you like. 
From Picton, it was a bus trip through flat agricultural land, past the vineyards of the Marlborough region, then over a  jack-knifing mountain range and down into Nelson in the warm glow of late afternoon.   Encumbered by my embarrassingly massive suitcase, I eventually met my friend at the tourist centre.  A long day, and a tiring one.  It was wonderful to be scooped up into her four-wheel drive and transported to her charming home near Nelson.  Bertie the Jack Russell made me welcome.

Bertie Russell

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses to “Queen Charlotte Sound”

  1. valkyrie1 Says:

    Lovely blue pictures.

    Re Cook: a couple of years ago, my niece appeared in a musical called Cook at her primary school. Written and composed by one of the teachers, it ws a splendid work featuring songs about sauerkraut, botanical nomenclature, and many other surprising things. I think Cook is pretty popular all round!

  2. albertine Says:

    Good to hear! I wonder if the wordsnmusic can be obtained? Too many of these wonderful pieces sink without trace. Have you noticed that wordpress no longer send an email when there’s a comment? I didn’t know about yours until just now.

    • valkyrie1 Says:

      I agree that too many of these pieces sink without trace. I can’t find a single mention of Cook! The Musical online, except on my own website.

      It seems to me one has to register separately to be notified of comments. There’s a box to tick on this page, for example.

      I found the process cumbersome, and stick with using a RSS Feed Reader (Google Reader is what I’m currently using). I’m subscribed to your blog entries and to your blog comments. When I open Google Reader, there they are!

  3. albertine Says:

    – and then there’s the classic, ‘My Fair Macbeth’. Not to mention the ‘Jelly Cantata’. How I would love to have the words n music for those two. Do you remember any more?
    (This is what it must have been like before writing things down was discovered.)
    I am struggling with the wordpress website – now I can’t find ‘save draft’ which threatens my whole mode of composition. – clearing my cookies etc hasn’t helped at all.

    • valkyrie1 Says:

      “Save draft” is a long way down the page. I hope you find it!

      “My Fair Macbeth” is a great loss. I didn’t ever sing the Jelly Cantata. I’ve been (in the car, where I practise singing, except at traffic lights) trying to remember a song written by the Kay twins that Helen Wadsley and I used to sing. It began, “The temporal joiners, twisting and beaming, are coming to turn me again”.

      • albertine Says:

        Found ‘save draft’ – it is in a dropdown when i click on something else. (forgotten what).
        I love the sound of the temporal joiners – sounds very philosophical, and also rather seventies (in a good way). DIY philosophy. Any concept of the tune? And – sorry – i’ve never heard it before. My glory days ended awfully early due to motherhood and leaving Canberra in 1974. The slightly anti-Scuna boyfriend didn’t help either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: