Dinghy rescue after Cook Strait adventure

A teenager rescued by police after crossing Cook Strait in a small dingy was trying to visit his brother in Wellington.

Tachyon Hutt, 18, left Kenepuru Sound at 10pm on Friday to make the 100km plus trip.

But after his motor died, he was forced to call for help.

He was rescued by police after emergency crews used the signal from his fast fading cell phone to trace him.

Police say the overnight conditions were “rough” for a small dingy and are warning people to ensure they have all the necessary safety equipment.

Senior Sergeant Dave Houston says the cell phone saved the teenager’s life.

“If we didn’t have the mobile locate, we would have had a massive search. The mobile literally saved his life.

“While this was a good outcome and no one was injured, we’d like to remind people the Cook Strait is a dangerous stretch of water.”

A dead possum in a tree at Liz Davidson Place. Photo: Matt Brown.

Young mum’s gruesome find

Dead animals hanging in trees in the Blenheim central business district proved a shocking sight for a young mother.

A dead rabbit holding a wine bottle and three dead possums adorned the trees at Liz Davidson Park on Queen St horrified a mother-of-one after visiting a pet shop.

Jesse Smith and her two-year-old son stumbled across the macabre scene on Wednesday.

“It was horrible,” Jesse says.

“It must have been done as a funny joke, but it’s not funny at all.

“Blenheim is a nice place and it’s not a nice thing to see.”

SPCA spokeswoman Sarah Hitchings says there were no complaints or evidence of an offence, but the scene was “unusual”.

“It is unusual and not something we see very often,” Sarah says.

“While the scene is distasteful, there is no evidence of an animal welfare offence.

“These animals were likely roadkill and have been staged to evoke a response from the public.

“However, if someone came forward with evidence these animals being killed inhumanely or in breach of the leghold trap provisions, then we could investigate the manner in which the animals died.”

The dead animals were cleaned up by Marlborough Roads, who manage the park.

The mystery woman who features on a camera found at the bottom of the Marlborough Sounds. Photo: Supplied.

Treasure trove of photos discovered by divers

A camera that lay lost on the seabed for around eight years has been discovered by divers – with its photos saved in perfect order.

The older-style Canon camera was found in its case by divers taking part in the Waikawa Dive Centre’sfirst Trash to Treasure competition.

Now the search is on to reunite the owners with their precious memories.

Bottles, tyres and more than 2000 other pieces of rubbish were recovered from the region’s waterways during a month-long Picton competition.

The case of the camera has seen better days, but the Canon Ixus 130 camera is, superficially, in good condition. Remarkably, the memory card still worked. Photo: Supplied.
The case of the camera has seen better days, but the Canon Ixus 130 camera is, superficially, in good condition. Remarkably, the memory card still worked. Photo: Supplied.

Waikawa Dive Centre manager Kate Trayling says while trawling for trash in the Grove Arm of the Marlborough Sounds, a family came across a camera – not of the “water-loving” kind.

“We would love to return the card to the owners as it looks like a lot of memories are on it,” Kate says.

Kate, who organised the ‘Trash to Treasure’ competition for the Waikawa Dive Centre, says none of the pictures appear to be taken in New Zealand and heavily feature military aircraft and ships, including the USS Midway.

“We’re hoping to find the owner,” she says.

An image from the camera was posted to Facebook but the owners remain a mystery.

Divers, snorkelers and free divers took to the water to collect rubbish lying on the Sounds’ seafloor for the month-long competition.

Those who collected the most were allocated points, which were tallied up to reveal the winner.

Troy Frost took out the Grand Champion title after “spending hours” hauling up trash.

“Troy waded into estuaries and collected all manner of objects that had been discarded,” Kate says.

“He bought in over 800 bits of rubbish from the water.”

Overall, 2000 pieces of rubbish were removed from Marlborough’s estuaries, rivers and seabeds.

“Zoe Luffman came runner-up after diving with her family most weekends,” Kate says.

“During one dive Zoe managed to pull an old tyre on to the beach that she had dragged up from the seabed.”

Husband and wife duo, Chris and Craig Chapman, took out third and fourth place for their efforts to rid the sea floor of junk.

The winner received a dive computer donated by Cressi New Zealand and an annual launch pass from Marlborough Sounds Marinas.

Kate says she hopes the ‘Trash to Treasure’ competition will become an annual event.

However, next year, she says they will wait for the water to warm up a bit more.

“We’re thinking October or November,” she says.

Caitlin Fuller with one of the rocks which has hit their Blenheim home. Photo: Matt Brown

Rocky mystery for puzzled residents

Mysterious rocks crashing onto a house roof have left a Blenheim homeowner feeling like Chicken Little.

Perplexed homeowner Trish Fuller says she’s starting to feel like the book and movie character after stones started falling from a seemingly clear sky.

And it’s not just her South St home that’s been affected, her neighbours have fallen foul of the mystery too.

Several ideas have been floated, from coconut-carrying African swallows to rambunctious kids with slingshots, but the random pebbles remain a mystery.

On Monday night, she called the police but there was “nothing for them to go on,” she says.

“Initially, we thought it was kids, but on a Monday night?”

The rocks have been falling every night, every couple of hours, Trish says.

“It’s quite scary when it happens, it gives you a fright.”

“They’re not dropping out of the sky, well they are, but they’re coming from somewhere.

Trish, on a Facebook post, asked Marlburians whether it was feasible birds could be the culprits.

“When I went to Darwin last year, they have birds that collect shells and stones to make a beautiful nest,” she says.

“Maybe we have birds like that?

“But why would they do it at night?”

Trish’s daughter, Caitlin Fuller, says they have been racking their brains to come up with plausible reasons for the boulder barrage.

“We have no idea,” Caitlin says.

“Because why would someone throw stones? That’s the question isn’t it, why would you?”

Neighbour Peter Snowden saw rocks arcing over from an adjacent property during the day. Photo: Matt Brown.
Neighbour Peter Snowden saw rocks arcing over from an adjacent property during the day. Photo: Matt Brown.

The enigma seemed to raise more questions than answers until neighbour Peter Snowden arriving home from work saw a volley of stones arcing from a nearby property.

“I was talking to the builder and another great big one hit the fence while we were talking,” Peter says.

“We thought it was coming from the construction site next door, someone throwing stones”.

Peter described the stone-throwers as idiots.

“I knew it wouldn’t be children, they would have to be adults.

“It’s only a matter of time, when they’re throwing them during the day, that someone’s going to get hit.

“It’s put a few dents in the iron.

“One time, we thought it was fireworks.

“It wasn’t just one at a time, there would be a bunch of thumps, three or four at a time.

Peter and Trish have both called the police, they hoped it was the end of the mystery.

A police spokesman says their enquiries into the thuggish vandalism are ongoing.

Big Cat sightings surge in South

After Marlborough Weekly broke the news of a possible big cat sighting last week, other people have come forward with similar revelations. Paula Hulburt reports.

She opened the curtains and froze in shock – a panther was prowling down the road towards the house.

Hot on the heels of a big-cat sighting near Ward last week, another Marlborough woman has spoken out of her own big cat encounter.

The woman, who asked not to be named, says she had been in Twizel in Canterbury late last year when she spotted the animal early one morning.

“It was only a few metres away; a huge, cat-like animal. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“It was about the height of a German Shepherd but much longer with an enormous tail. It was taking huge steps but didn’t seem to be in a hurry,” she says.

The house was situated in a new development that was still underway, surrounded by forest and huge piles of earth.

But by the time the woman had ran for her camera, the cat was leaving.

“I knew I wasn’t seeing things but couldn’t believe my eyes a really but the time I ran to get my camera he had disappeared.

‘He looked very healthy and his coat was shiny, so I guess finding food hasn’t been a problem.

“I started to worry about kids in the area and what might happen so rang the police to report it,” she says.

A spokeswoman from Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed there had been sightings reported to them over the years.

But she says investigations had concluded them to be of a “large feral cat.”

“There have been around 18 notifications of sightings of a large cat since 2000, in both the north and south islands. As expected, notifications often come in clusters following an initial report in the media.

“Investigations have been carried out over the years and no evidence has ever been found to suggest the presence of an exotic feline. For example – paw prints reported in 2006 were confirmed to be those of a dog.

“Examination of photographs, scat, hair and faeces samples from various places throughout New Zealand (associated with reported sightings) have also concluded the sightings to be that of either a dog or a large feral cat.”