23-Feb-2004 -- I had been lucky enough to discover confluence.org only one month before a visit to the Marlborough Sounds area. Too bad all the terrestrial confluences on my native France were done; but by some miracle, there remained a realistic objective not far from the place where I should meet my friends in the southern hemisphere.
Thanks to the help of Tugdual Le Gal La Salle, who provided yacht Le Sebura to reach Powhenui Island, and Cecile Brulebois -who lent GPS and digital camera- I was ready for the battle, with Sebura moored in Forsyth Bay in the afternoon of February 23rd. Thanks also to both for their precious psychological support in my quest.
Powhenui Island is not an island, but technically part of the South Island, since a very narrow isthmus links it to the main island roads network. Definitely a place hard to reach otherwise than by boat.
During our trip through the Sounds, I was quite anxious of the vegetation to be found at the confluence point: native bush can be quite lush in this area. The apprehensions vanished somehow when we moored at Forsyth Bay: while the 1/50000 map announced bush on the eastern side of the island, this was in truth farmland, with peaceful sheep and cows grazing. Would it be the same on the western side, where the confluence lay, some 200 or 300 meters beside a clear track?
Captain Tugdual stayed on his ship, due to a sprained ankle, I walked the way to the ridge with Cecile. Sad discovery, young bush was regenerating on the western side of the island, and reaching our aim would not be easy. Due to her pregnancy, Cecile left me: I remained the last of the three initial confluence hunters to try to reach the aim.
The first meters seemed desperate. But miracle! After five or ten minutes groping through the bush, a small path was obvious, probably seldom trodden -a sheep track before bush regeneration? And following the track to the south-west brought inside the magic 100 meter circle (precisely at 41 00,036 S 174 00,002 E according to the GPS, accurate at 25 meters). Simply I did not notice it ! By luck, I took a picture of the GPS with longitude nearly zeroed; then I kept looking out in a wrong direction (rather ashame to write it down on a public place, but I shall be honest). The bush blocked GPS reception most of the time, and I seldom obtained position figures when I left the small path proper.
Back at the boat, I discovered I had indeed reached the confluence; I had only to come back the next day to take the pictures to the precise point on the path where longitude zeroed. You shall notice the GPS picture I submit seems to imply I nearly zeroed the confluence, but this is pure cheating: the GPS was still searching when I took it, and the real figures are those reported in this text (a picture of the GPS is available if asked to check my success). I had gone this day intending to search further in the bush, but quickly stopped, realizing I could not manage GPS reception when I left the small track. At least I had now the pictures, and in better sunlight than the previous day. The requirements were met (though the picture looking southwards was blurred, which explains why I chose not to submit it).
I know now that another hunter reached the confluence in March, later than I did, but after I write these lines. I can simply hope his report will give a better accuracy, don't ask me to get back there a third time !