By Don Miller
Living in Marlborough we are surrounded by opportunities for recreation. For some of us this may have been why we moved here, while others have had this privilege all of their lives. In my case it was the decades old memory of sailing in Pelorus Sound in an old yacht – one so small that we had to camp on land at night, that brought me back here. The silence of the night followed by the dawn chorus is an integral part of those memories.
What do we mean by “Play green”? To me it is just recreation that has minimal negative impact on the environment.
Playing green is almost synonymous with the sounds of nature, while burning fossil fuel is generally a noisy activity.
While steady progress is being made toward using silent renewable energy for transport, we already have many options to Play green. For those living near the Sounds the marine options include kayaking, rowing, stand up paddleboard, sailing and swimming. A kayak lets you drift quietly along a forested shoreline and allows maximum exposure to our birdlife. Some might prefer rowing which may be more convenient for groups which include small children.
I have been surprised at the wildlife dramas being played out on the water that would be entirely missed in a power boat. Have you ever watched the performance put on by a shag building its nest in a shoreline tree? Despite the apparent chaos the nests do get built, although one does wonder how.
An exception to noisy powerboats is the recent advent of the electric outboard motor. There were electric boats in use decades ago and my dentist in the 1950s had one made so that he could cruise on the Mahurangi River without making a great disturbance, but the development of the Lithium Ion battery has increased the range and reduced the weight of electric outboard motors and made them a viable alternative. Battery drills have even been modified for use as improvised kayak motors.
The amount of power wasted by conventional petrol and diesel marine motors was brought home to me on a kayak excursion early on a recent wind-free New Year’s Day. Once the power boats started heading out from Waikawa their combined wakes soon made the sea so choppy that our trip was abandoned. Human, and wind power has many advantages for our health and our planet.
Cycling is an obvious “Play green” choice but for older folks whose joints might be a bit worn the electric bicycle is a dream come true. The knees benefit from this type of movement but the stress on them can be adjusted to almost zero as the motor provides the required power. Look at the tracks available for the mountain biker now too. The Queen Charlotte Track and the Link Pathway connect Picton to the Sounds already, with Kaikoura being on the horizon.
There is now a Fossil Free Multisport event, where competitors have to tow their kayaks with their bicycles. Considering that one event involved cycling and kayaking from Christchurch to Port Levy over Dyers Pass, it was no mean feat. http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2018/03/13/fossil-fuel-free-multisport-2018/
If you want to know more about how you can Play green, enjoy the outdoors, improve your health and avoid polluting our environment – come to the Marlborough Earth Day Party, Saturday 21st April A&P Park, Blenheim
The posts are a collection of opinion articles written by CKM member Tom Powell for the Marlborough Express. Tom is a retired geologist who came to New Zealand in 2004 to work in the geothermal industry on the North Island, is a New Zealand citizen and now lives in Blenheim.