Drift­wood Eco-Tours

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - SOUTH ISLAND -

Vix the Jack Rus­sell used to be a pup with a pur­pose, though like many grad­u­ates, her in­tended ca­reer path went off course. While she still dab­bles in pest con­trol – her orig­i­nal call­ing – these days she is more likely to be found cruis­ing the Opawa River and Wairau La­goon on the front of owner Will Par­son’s kayak. The ex­cel­lent Drift­wood Eco­tours of­fers vis­i­tors the chance to see the re­gion from the wa­ter and ex­pe­ri­ence rare birdlife (the Caspian tern and glossy ibis are just two birds that call the area home) and drift through en­dan­gered wet­lands. Will and wife Rose are the care­tak­ers of a 10-hectare sec­tion and spend their days shar­ing their place with those in­ter­ested in dis­cov­er­ing the rich­ness of the re­gion’s wildlife and his­tory. The Mãori his­tory in the la­goon is fas­ci­nat­ing. It is the old­est-dis­cov­ered site of hu­man oc­cu­pa­tion in New Zealand. The tale of 12-year-old Jim Eyles, who dis­cov­ered a moa egg and the re­mains of a Maori chief be­low it, is one of Will’s favourite sto­ries, but we won’t spoil it by telling you the end­ing.

Vis­i­tors don’t need to be too fit for the kayak­ing, the wa­ters are gen­er­ally calm (“there is al­ways a hole for the sun to shine through on the Wairau,” says Will) and the pace suits all. There are also op­tions for guided walks, 4WD tours and multi-day tours of the sur­round­ing re­gions. There’s a feel-good fac­tor, too. Will and Rose plant a tree for every tour booked, so hit­ting the wa­ter means help­ing re­gen­er­a­tion. There is ac­com­mo­da­tion on site for those who want to linger and en­joy the peace and quiet of the river. 749 Dil­lons Point Road, Blenheim, (03) 577 7651, drift­wood­e­co­tours.co.nz

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