Mutton Cove is perfection, well, of a sort: golden sand beach, the sand grains are coarse, the beach slope is steep; pure, clear, water, just the touch of a translucent blue up close, the boots off and toes bathing, from a distance, up high, it’s a full-on Adriatic blue, intense, riveting, and the bush green down to the beach.

That bush is in no way natural, this area was extensively logged way back, and fact Mutton Cove was the site of a futile effort to create a life here in the early days, years spent hacking at the bush to build a farm. Now the only bush au naturale remains in dank pockets down some inaccessible streams, there’s a few remaining giant rata, the odd rimu in regeneration mode, red beech but mostly the predominant flora of the park is kanuka and manuka, with a range of broadleaf specimens, mahoe in extensive stands.

The camping area at Mutton Cove is level, fully grassed, overlooking the said extraordinary picturesque water, a picnic table surprisingly free, the sun out. I was the first to book a night here a week ago or so but by the time I staggered in, around 4pm, there are already my German friends from last night in three tents, two kayakers who have paddled around Separation Point from Tata and two other random tents.

For some reason all this Paradise is too much to take in, maybe I prefer to share the experience, ie, perfection, with someone else, someone special, so I decide on another hill climb over to Whariwharangi, another plod up another hill.

Actually not so big a day all in all, too much time spent chatting along the way, me the psuedo-Australian, a couple from Christchurch, some gal from Nelson, a couple from the Pacific Northwest, a German guy, then another, four Aussie blokes on their sixth Great Walk, the Nelson-based kayakers, then additional impromptu meetings with some previous on the list, not quite the complete United Nations. It’s that kind of walk, everyone with a sunny disposition on this now delightful evening, that view over the Mutton Cove campsite and the massive macrocarpa on the edge of the beach, over to the top of the Marlborough Sounds, the air still, could only be described as perfect.

Yeah, a fully perfect day.

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