A beautiful and breezy Wellington Anniversary summers day was the chosen time for us to complete our Miniature Hut collection. We had so far found five and only had two to go. First up was the DOC Hut located on Matiu/Somes Island and that meant a ferry ride.
We met up with Pauline in Petone and then drove out to Days Bay figuring that it was a shorter journey to the island and we have better luck with parking. The ferry arrived just a little late and it was a short and easy trip over to the island. We were greeted by the DOC ranger and a couple of volunteers from Eastbourne who took us through the quarantine checks (Any seeds? Nope; Any ants? Nope; Anything else like a mouse? Nope) and gave us a quick background on the islands history and what we might expect to see. All done we were on our own to explore.
As suggested we took the track that circled the island and walked in an anticlockwise (and more buggy friendly) direction. There was plenty of wildlife on view with gulls swooping around on the swirling wind, lots of other birds heard but not seen in the low canopy and numerous skinks sunning themselves at the edge of the track and disappearing in a flash as we approached. We also spotted (thanks to a tip from a couple we passed in our travels) a young male tuatara reclining in the shade near one of the lookout points.
We diverted to visit the lighthouse and checked out the nearby weta hotel which was fully booked with eleven tree weta all cosy and packed in tight. If we’d been a little more observant we’d have seen the DOC hut in the distance on the track as it continued around the island but it made little difference as five minutes later we were walking right by it perched on the side of the path.
There was a door on the track side of the hut which was unlocked through the use of a small sliding bolt. Inside was the usual log book and a few other bits and pieces including a book called “The Taming of the Crew” which had a nautical theme. Inside was a bunk bed and the huts had windows taking in the view over the little bay below, Wellington Harbour and the city in the distance.
Alayna quite liked the pictures of yachts in the Taming of the Crew book and managed to figure out how to open and close the bolt on the door after a bit of playing around. She also wanted to check out the water reservoir that would be filled with rain funnelled off the roof into the guttering if we’d had any rain recently so instead there was a green sludge which wasn’t something Alayna needed to play with.
After a family photo or two we moved on and stopped at the next picnic table in a shady spot for some lunch. Then we spent a few hours wandering around the rest of the island. Alayna’s favourite spot was the concrete fountain in a clearing on the east side of the island that was full of a ducklings taking a swim. They were very trusting ducklings and their mum was unconcerned by our presence so Alayna was able to get very close and watch her favourite birds relaxing in the water.
The ferry ride back to Days Bay was again short and sweet. Days Bay was a hive of activity with a constant stream of people jumping off the wharf and then swimming back to the steps to then repeat their dives. The beach was full of people sunning themselves and the boat shop at the end of the pier had a large line of people queuing for ice-cream. It was summer in a picture so naturally I didn’t take a photo, some things need to be remembered in the mind.
We now had one last hut to find and we ended up driving to an out-of-the-way corner of Aro Valley to follow a path into a leaf strewn forest, it was like entering a sylvan world transported into a corner of Wellington.
The path gently rose up the valley crossing a steam back and forth as the trees got taller and the spots of light passing through the canopy became fewer and fewer. We came to a clearing that had a single chair and a strung rope tied with ribbons and cloth hanging still as there was no wind. In a tall tree we saw fabric butterflies illuminated in a shaft of light. The path continued away from the clearing still following the stream and in a dim area nestled underneath a tree sat the Crystal Hut, we’d found the last one.
As the name would indicate the hut was covered in blocky crystal growths looking like it had grown in place from some strange blue chemistry set. There was a door with a crystal handle and this hinged up to reveal the final log book. Alayna had a go at leaving her mark and then we were done.
All I can say is Wellington needs more little artworks of wonder such as the Miniature Hut trail and everyone should visit as least one. You’ll see parts of Wellington you probably never knew existed and you’ll meet interesting people and see things you won’t expect. Kemi Niko & Co thank you very much, I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the future!