A clear morning and light frost greeted us as we untied WAX. Apart from some scattered cloud over central north island, the coast was clear with nil weather forcast for all of New Zealand. With 420 nm between Motueka and Kerikeri, our route would be fairly direct.
D'Urville Island is named after a French explorer, and a good departure point from the south island,. The weather today was perfect for a landing. This was exciting! I'd heard much about this island. Situated at the north western boundary of Marlborough Sounds, it is separated from the mainland by a notorious waterway named French Pass.
The airstrip was situated beyond the sand dunes of a western inlet. It was of good length, had a well defined wheel tracks, but was partly shaded by a steep slope to the north and recently someone had worked the ground each side of the strip, making that a no go area. This was one of those airstrips only accessible in the best weather, and where you had to get everything right. My sweaty palms returned as we approached to have an initial look. This was followed by a low overhead pass, to map circuit heights, wind/air pockets, the shade affect, and figure out decision points. This is a busy circuit for me! Mentally avoiding the bog on finals, I landed a little further into the strip than was ideal, but my guide still declared a "Great Landing" as I rolled out ahead. With no room to turn, we shut down to manually turn WAX on the spot, before back-track. Another aircraft radioed his intention to land at the same strip, Others were making the best of this weather. We replied that we'd park as far off the threshold as possible. With this done, our companion arrived overhead. I managed a great video of his approach and landing, which looked perfect and I wondered if mine was in any way similar?
Even if I'd located this airstrip, I'd never have attempted it by myself. It was a thrill to accomplish this landing today, and I understood why Flyinn Guests loved this type of experience. Not everyone gets to such places!
We managed a quick walk to the beach and a snack, before departing northward. There was still a long way to go.