“Travalance!” I was just waiting for someone to call out, yelling and pointing from somewhere high off the Navigators port side. Then we would hear the crashing of a thousand trees, being torn off the granite mountainsides. Long green strips falling from the sky. The event marking another skirmish in the endless battle between the trees clinging for life, and the waterfalls eroding the hillsides. This story has remained the same for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Although it happens “often” in natures time, we didn’t see a thing.
We had trouble hearing anything at all. Just the simple and familiar patter of the rain. Adorned in full rain garb, Dave and I look like the fishermen on the cover of a cheap frozen fish box at a dingy grocery store. 50% fish would be in the ingredients. When Captain Cook stumbled upon “Doubtful Harbour” in 1770, it is said that he was met with a “…thunderous chorus of bird song.” Dave and I strained to hear just one bird, the first and last, we’d heard in two days.
The story of doubtful sound is two fold. The first being the ideal and overwhelming scenery. The New Zealand Governor general summed it up the best in the 1960’s “There are just a few areas left in the world where no human has ever set foot.” I suspect its not because we, as humans didnt want to conquer this land. If anything, I could imagine expensive condos fixed solidly to the hillside or flash houseboats permanently in the safe, deep water. The Maori had it right, believing the land was cursed for being too beautiful, with Te Namunamu aka The black death aka The Sandfly. But the people on the boat dont mind. We stand on the deck and pose for Facebook collateral. 99% DEET is on our clothing.
The reality and horribly less popular narrative is one of silent tragedy. The fact is that people have been here. They where the ones that killed all the seals and wales. They brought the stoats (a nasty ferret type creature), rats and possums. We are the reason why we cant hear any birds and there is a mind numbing 35% extinction rate for New Zealand native birds.
Dave, Linzay and I shake our heads and discuss how humans could be so stupid as to introduce the stoat in an attempt to kill rabbits, or to kill seals to make coats. This story and surrounding economic tactics have been repeated a thousand times over the globe and in history itself. Far worse, is the shared feeling that it hasnt stopped. We can and will look back on the way we behave with food, chemicals, plastics, oils and many other things with a sort of guilty anguish. Our regret will be hard to explain, with little more than the defense of “thats how it was in those days.” And we’ll eventually settle for far less from nature, posing in front of silent forest where everything beautiful but everything is dead. Dont worry we can use a filter to get more green into the trees.
So yeah it was a good trip. Here are some pictures: