What a day! I think we’ve landed in paradise. Anyway, to retract a little, it was sunny in Wellington this morning and after breakfast we took a taxi to the train station (by the parliament buildings on the curiously named Bunny Street) and then a train to Porirua and then a taxi to the floatplane. The taxi driver dropped us off by the harbour side and said the floatplanes go from here. We’re in the middle of nowhere, waiting by the harbour and a closed rowing club. John said “I thought they’d be an office?” I thought about this and said that I supposed their office was in Picton and they are just coming to pick us up here so logically it’s likely there’s no office, but it hadn’t occurred to me up until now. John: “when are they picking us up?” Me: “12pm”. John: “what’s the time now?” Me: “10.30am”. You see the problem. I suppose I just hadn’t thought it through. Saying that I think there are worse places to be stuck for an hour and a half. Firstly the harbour is very pretty and I amuse myself taking pictures of the terminal (jetty), the customs and immigration officials (seagulls) and the departure lounge (our bench). Then we have a chat to a chap going canoeing and watch someone jet ski-ing. After all this, the floatplane arrives. It is tiny! There are seats for 4 and room for some luggage. I feel as though I’m an extra in “The English Patient”. We get into the plane and take off from the water over to Marlborough Sounds. It’s a beautiful journey and our pilot points out various landmarks on the way. The Marlborough Sounds are a collection of islands off the tip of the South Island. They are very remote and many are only accessible by air or sea. About 20 minutes later we land on the beach by Hopewell. How cool is that! I now feel as though I’m in the middle of a James Bond movie. We meet Mike (co-owner of Hopewell) and follow him through the dense bush from the beach out to their home. Hopewell is a backpackers resort with dorms, private rooms and a cottage (we’ve booked the cottage for a bit of space and comfort). Mike and Lynley, his partner, start by welcoming us with tea and homemade chocolate brownies – delicious! Once settled in we have lunch then go for a swim (cold) and then a jacuzzi in the hot tub on the sea edge (hot) before a sunbathe in the late afternoon sunshine by the water’s edge. Then a shower and meet everyone back at the main house for a “free mussel evening”. I’ve never eaten mussels – and don’t really like fish in fact – but did give them a go. They’re a bit slimy and the texture is offputting but the flavour is quite good. Afterwards we have homemade pizza and then chocolate mousse for pudding. Stroll back to our cottage where we’re lulled to sleep by the waves.