I have recently spent a few weeks in Monaco. No, not the European home of the rich. I had a van with a view in the little peninsula in Nelson where no day is ever the
same. Let me describe it for you.
To the right lies a busy airport. To the left, I the smoke of the MDF plant can be seen. In the far distance are Rabbit Island and Kaiteriteri. At centre stage, low-lying Oyster Island has three trees at one end.
Directly across the road is a stony beach and ever-changing mudflat. At low tide it is a strip of channel, while at high tide it can flow over the road and into the garage with king tides of over 4.5 m. During the most recent storm it was ankle deep inside the house. But that's a story for another day.
Many of the usual suspects hang around. A pair of black oystercatchers lives nearby alongside pied shags, white-faced herons, royal spoonbills, kingfishers, black swans and gulls (both big and small).
In the plant department you will find cabbage trees, ngaio, South African iceplant, taupata, NZ flax and Muehlenbeckia complexa. The high tide line has its own surprises with saltwort and crabs galore. I have already had the pleasure of meeting some of the local stingrays. One in particular made quite a splash during a half-tide hunting expedition.
That just leaves the two-legged variety. Where do I start? Off the water it is popular with cyclists, walkers (with and without dogs) and the Harrier Club. On the water the bay is a chocolate box of vessels from sea kayaks to sailing boats and jetskis. The latest invader is the paddle boarder. And let's not forget the occasional car that gets stuck in the mud on the short stretch of tidal road.
Around the back, down (Prince) Rainer St, you will find a short wharf with its supports covered in tiny mussel shells, a floating table set up with rod holders, a free library in a letterbox and an active model boat club.
There are no sand hills to block the view. Instead, imagine low hills and distant beaches wrapped around you like a comfort blanket.
Between planes, people and wildlife, it is rarely quiet. Empty boat trailers gather by the ramp, seagulls argue over fishing spots and the locals act as volunteer coast patrollers from their front porches.
All the while, the tide keeps time. Constantly moving in and out with its own timetable, one ignores it at one's own risk. It's a long walk across the mud flats if you get stranded. And Mother Nature is never too shy to remind us who is in charge.
Next stop, for me, is to join the kayak club so I can join the water lovers.