New Zealand Diaries #2 – Picton & Cheviot

An unexpected journey

A journey becomes unforgettable when you least expect it to be. If you are a free-spirited traveller like I am, New Zealand, a country vast and limitless, is the perfect location for you to set yourself free. The beauty of New Zealand does not end with its natural landscapes, but continues to flow through its people: well-travelled, open-minded, and a true representation of a global citizen.

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One might think that Picton and Cheviot, being such small towns in the South Island, will be a boring place to skip past in your itinerary. But thanks to the extremely hospitable hosts, not only were these my best travel experiences yet, I left New Zealand making friends that I never thought I would.

Boats out!

Waking up in Picton with nothing planned for the day, our host Tim invites us to a fishing trip with his friend out along Cook Strait in the Marlborough Sounds. With the sun as a warm companion, the autumn winds didn’t seem so chilly after all. While Tim geared up in his diving suit to catch some huge lobsters, we stayed on the boat to learn the techniques to fishing well with his friend.

It was 4 hours well spent with glistening emerald waters and lusciously green knolls as the background. As socially responsible individuals, we caught 8 fishes and 6 crayfish, each measuring more than 33cm length for the fishes and 60mm width for the latter. These are the official guidelines from the Ministry for Primary Industries, in maintaining the balance in the marine ecosystem.

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As if catching seafood wasn’t exciting enough, eating fresh lobsters cooked to perfection tops it all up. The tender yet bouncy meat oozes its naturally sweet flavours after every bite. I volunteered to cook some Asian style food – ginger and spring onion blue cod, egg fried rice, and a chilli French beans stir-fry – with thanks to the ingredients bought by his wife, Anne.

Gathering for dinner with Anne and Tim at the dining table, it felt like we were truly embraced into the family. Experiences like these were costless but truly priceless.

Chateau de Cheviot

While most of us live in houses built by construction companies, our host Ellis decided to build a house he could truly call his own 12 years ago. A mixture of cement, wood and natural materials make up this incredible living space he proudly calls ‘The Tree House’. An adventurer at heart, Ellis is a true representation of hard work, perseverance and positivity.

Coincidentally, Ellis and his partner Sanna were embarking on a new treehouse project and invited us to be a part of it. With no agenda for the day, we agreed to be builders of the day, albeit with the wrong attire. From climbing up trees to measure the appropriate heights of the wooden pillars, sawing planks and mixing cement, it was a full-body workout without a doubt. But I never thought being a part of this rustic construction will bring about so much inspiration and accomplishment.

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The morning fog weaves through the hills and the trees, and I couldn’t resist walking out to the backyard barefooted just to feel in sync with nature while witnessing this dramatic entrance into a brand-new day. Approaching mid-day, the sun takes over and warms up the autumn temperatures. Then it was lunch with Sanna and Ellis talking about our passion for travel, and their pet dog lazing and basking in the sun. At night, Ellis brings us out again to show us the constellations above us, identifying certain star signs and the milky way. At the end of the day, I really wanted to stop the alarm clock so I will never have to wake up from this dream.

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