We have just returned from five days in a very remote part of northwest Nelson: Westhaven Inlet. We were living in a very comfortable cottage at a place called Westhaven Retreat, with a magnificent outlook over farmland and rugged coastline.
I took my fishing gear, keen to try my hand at surf casting. Access to the nearest beach was a short 20 minute drive along a farm track followed by a climb down to the water. I was assured by my hosts that it was easy, they take children down there. I wasn’t quite so sure but in my present physical state was very keen to give it a try. (After suffering from severe arthritis for the last couple of years, I’m feeling the effects of a month on new and very expensive wonder drug.)
Here’s the coastline I’m talking about:
and here’s the farm track:
The way to the beach is down here:
Of course, the best time to go fishing is at low tide, preferably just after the tide has turned. At the moment the tides are quite large, exposing a very wide expanse of sand where the only footprints are made by birds.
I had about 3 1/2 hours before dark and the tides seem suitable so I decided to give it a go. As usual, I took too much gear. It took me two trips to get everything down to the beach. My mountain guide son would have probably run down but I found it quite a challenge. Jumping from rock to rock is not my style. Still, by surveying carefully the available routes and proceeding slowly and carefully, I made it up and down without incident. Several times. Only trouble was, I only had time for about 20 minutes fishing. The only aquatic life forms I observed were some stranded jellyfish and some truly enormous red crabs.
By the time I got back to the car and the gear packed away, I was reminded of just how unfit I was. And there were still four gates to open and shut on the way back. Imagine my delight when I approached the second to last gate to find someone on duty: my wife had guessed how I would be feeling, kept a lookout for the car and walked down to give me a hand. Oh, and we were having venison for dinner, not fish.
Later that evening my spine and ankles were telling me that I’d overdone it. I must have been crazy to think that I could cast a surf rod without paying for it later. Still, I felt very pleased with myself. An expedition like that would have been out of the question six weeks ago.
Most of the other excursions were not quite so physical. I did manage to catch a fish (but returned the little kahawai to Tangaroa), as well as some great photographs. More on that later.