Otautu Bay to Fantail Bay

Today’s walk was to be 17ks along the coast road. After 5ks of meeting no cars we came upon a traffic jam, caused not by vehicles but by a herd of cows. 500 cows and calves plus 18 bulls were being moved 3ks up the road. We got chatting to the farmer’s wife while waiting for the herd to get going, and given we couldn’t get too close for fear of startling them, we joined her in the truck as she drove behind the herd. As well as meaning 3ks less walking for us, we had a lovely chat, as she (and her hubby who joined for part of it) were full of stories. Some of the random things we learned were:

  • When a calf dies at birth (or drowns if the cow gave birth close to a creek), they buy another calf and wrap it for a night in the skin of the dead calf, after which the new calf is accepted by the mother.
  • The post office we had seen in Colville was to be closed 20 years ago along with many other rural post offices, but the locals got together and arranged a roster of volunters to keep the service open.

As you can see, 3ks at cow walking pace is enough time to cover a wide range of topics!
Although both seemed to be in their 70s (and she had traveled alone from Bombay to London by bus in 1950s, so 70s seemed reasonable), they were full of life and energy. She was from Devon (UK) originally but was living in NZ for more than 40 years. They invited us to drop in for refreshments on our way South although we won’t be taking up their offer as we plan to take a different route.

We reached Fantail Bay campsite at about 2pm after a glorious coastal walk. There were massive sprawling Pohutukawa trees everywhere and we are only sorry that we will miss their flowering season (Dec). Two camper vans awaited us at the campsite, and a guy from one of them joined us on the rocks that evening – he was fishing as we took photos and enjoyed the sunset. He wasn’t successful that evening, but had caught 3 snapper that morning. All were below the minimum size of 27cm though, so he threw them back in. (By the way, we are starting to realise the tendency to exaggerate numbers here – the guy originally told us the minimum snapper size was 270cm, and the farmer this morning told us of a hiker he met with a 120lb pack. We now view differently the beekeeper with his supposed 20,000 stings!)
It was a very cold night, and we were tucked up in our sleeping bags by 6pm!

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