The stuff of daydreams Sarah Nottage melts into the ‘now’ at French Pass. PHOTOGRAPHY STEVE HUSSEY
t’s a tiger. No, it’s a three-legged unicorn – and a wheelbarrow full of goats is fast approaching.” Gazing at our unobstructed view of Elmslie Bay with D’Urville Island in the distance, the worries of the world melted away, allowing us the space to focus on clouds. As Lyn, our host at French Pass Beachfront Villas, says, “The sky is ever-changing. When you look, you really see. You see the green of the trees. You see the blue of the ocean and the sky.” You see unicorns in the clouds. The road stops and the ocean begins at French Pass (Te Aumiti), a 2.5-hour drive from Nelson. Although the last 17km of road is partly unsealed, it is in good condition. It winds through farmland along the peninsula, offering spectacular views down to the Marlborough Sounds. Stop at the French Pass Lookout to observe treacherous tidal flows – the fastest in New Zealand. The current is so strong it can stun fish when the tide changes. French Pass was settled in 1857 by Arthur Elmslie at what became a fishing and farming village, however the road from Okiwi Bay was not built until 1957. Before then inhabitants relied on boats
‘Here I am living my authentic life. I may be 62 but I feel like I am 40.’ LY N B O U LTO N , R E S I D E N T
for freight, stock, mail and transportation. Only a handful of residents live in French Pass full-time these days. It still boasts accommodation options to suit every budget, ranging from the Department of Conservation campground to a backpackers and more luxurious options.
Resilient characters Visiting a relatively isolated location such as French Pass makes you wonder about the type of character who chooses to live there. Having been fortunate enough to meet a few, I’d say they possess a unique blend of resilience, spirit of adventure, connection with their environment, and a sense of humour. The type of person who gets out of bed early to swim in the ocean every day, rain or shine, winter or summer. The type of person who believes that everything happens for a reason. The type of person who approaches all people and places with an open heart. One such person is 61-year-old Lyn Boulton, owner/operator of Beachfront Villas. With her clear brown eyes twinkling and her lithe, tanned arms gesticulating, Lyn recalls how, at the age of 23, she planned to embark on her ‘Overseas Experience’, as young Kiwis do. Despite an aversion to swimming in the ocean, she decided to do a dive course in Nelson. She failed the exam first time around. Her diving instructor invited her over for dinner and asked: “What do you really want?” Nine days later, Lyn was engaged to instructor Danny Boulton. They married two months later. She passed the exam second time around. Raising a family of three children in Nelson, the couple spent their holidays camping, fishing and diving at French Pass. When their eldest child Amy was nine, they took a gigantic financial