Best unexpected highlight on the Queen Charlotte Track…meet Noeline

Last weekend we walked the Queen Charlotte Track in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. It was absolutely magic. Totally refreshing to be outside in a stunning part of New Zealand. Pretty lucky really. There were many highlights over the 4 days including…stunning scenery across both the Queen Charlotte and Keneporu Sounds, constant birdsong, fishing off the wharf at the end of the day and simply enjoying the 70+km we walked

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Queen Charlotte Sounds – not bad at all!

One of the unexpected highlights was on our second night at Punga Cove, meeting the host of our accommodation, Noeline. She was an absolute treat. At 84 years Noeline is living life and we were actually lucky to spend the night in her home. Noeline has been described by the Lonely Planet as being the “Universal Grandmother”. I can certainly attest this claim as we walked in to a great cuppa tea and scones straight out of the oven. She is a warm host having lived in The Sounds for the last 30 years. She has seen her fair share of people through her doors during this time and loves the interaction with world travelers to the track and thus magical part of the world.

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The legend Noeline and Pepper on her deck overlooking Punga Cove. Such a treat of a woman!

Noeline would normally be traveling at this time of the year choosing to spend 9 months of the year in Punga Cove and then taking off for the remainder of the year to explore the world. Impressively she has been to 62 different countries and she started traveling when she was 67! What a legend. Her fridge is covered with a collection of magnets she has got from around the world. There are souvenirs from the likes of Gibraltar, Galapagos Islands, Madagascar and Egypt littering her fridge. You will not find a magnet from the UK as she plainly told us “why would I wand to go there when I think it would be a bit like here?” Fair play to you Noeline.

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Keneporu Sound from the start of the saddle. Day 3 Queen Charlotte track after an inspiring stay at Noeline’s Homestay

Noeline’s resilience was a inspiring. Where she chooses to live is isolated and not for the folk who enjoy the daily flat white, a regular newspaper and the ability to pop down to the shops if you need. She has as her companion her dog Pepper and the many visitors to her house doing the track to keep her tales alive. Her resilience transfers to her own travels choosing not to go to your standard countries but to see the world in places less frequented. In a couple of weeks Noeline will head away again but this time to travel down the amazon and then on to Patagonia. She will embark on another adventure by herself but be able to share this one with the many visitors she has for the rest of the year.

It was a pleasure to meet you Noeline and be reminded that life is totally for living no matter what age bracket you are in. Noeline’s sense of adventure, guts and gusto will serve as a reminder to us that you must constantly get after it to stay young. She’s a kind hearted lady who if you do come across her will treat you with compassion and offer a good hug to see you off on your way. I hope we meet again sometime Noeline, hopefully in the Sounds and over a good cuppa discussing your latest escapades.

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