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March 2012 Issue
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Enticing inlet

2-3 hours
From the head of Kenepuru Sound take the Titirangi Road through Kenepuru Saddle and up to its junction with Anakoha Road where a signposted and marked track climbs to Mt Stokes

Endeavour Inlet, Marlborough Sounds

The juxtaposition of water, hills, and mist set amid glorious dawn light is a splendid reward for those who venture to the summit of Mt Stokes in the outer Marlborough Sounds at break of day. This isolated summit, lying near the head of Kenepuru Sound, and overlooking both Pelorus and Queen Charlotte sounds is a magnificent setting for capturing the spread of light over the landscape of the Sounds.
In particular, Endeavour Inlet and the outer parts of Queen Charlotte Sound are pre-eminent as the show piece of the vista. Gentle light drapes these attractive hills with great depth and unsurpassed beauty as the sun slowly fills the void below with colour and texture. Mt Stokes is almost in the same category as an island sanctuary, being remote from the Mainland, although still adjoining it, and having growing on its windswept flanks botanical species from both North and South islands. So it is often the site for studies on plant habitats and bio-diversity.
This environment is certainly reminiscent of an island and has the ambience of one, high above the internecine waterways and where strong wind blows almost every day of the year, scouring the tussocks and raking the bush canopy below the small cone of the peak at 1203m. This altitude is not high by New Zealand standards but take a moment to consider that the closest arm of the sea in Endeavour Inlet is just 4.3km away making it 1.2km of vertical gain to reach the summit. It is also the reason Mt Stokes has such an arresting and far reaching view in these parts and takes in much of the Sounds, as well as parts of the North Island and upper South Island.
Yet it is always that intimate window out over Endeavour Inlet that draws the viewer down into the waters and hills of the Sounds.