Wayne Johnson, Anna Hughes and their sons, Eli (left) and
Niwha, head for home after a day in town yesterday. Photo
by Stephen Jaquiery.
A Dunedin family living in the middle of Otago Harbour is
Wayne Johnson and Anna Hughes emigrated to Quarantine Island
with their sons, Eli (6) and Niwha (3), to take over as
caretakers at the start of the year.
''We really wanted to have a family adventure that was a bit
different and the island offered that,'' Mr Johnson (41) said
''It's been an incredible adventure for us, as a family.
We'll have lots of good memories.
''I've really enjoyed the tranquillity. The simplicity of
life over there is so good.''
The 15ha island, which served as a quarantine station from
1863 to 1924, is managed as a public recreation reserve by
the Department of Conservation and St Martin Island
''It's been a big decision to leave. We thought we'd be there
for two to five years.
"But, it's hard to have time for us. It's a very busy time
"It's a classic hospitality job, really, and there's always a
list of things to do a mile long. We're also quite social and
it's not exactly the sort of place friends can just drop in
They will return to their Tomahawk home on December 21.
''It's been a lot different to what we thought it would be,''
Ms Hughes, the Enviro-Schools regional co-ordinator, said.
''One of the things about the island is you can't do anything
or go anywhere without getting on the boat. The boat was a
novelty for the boys at first, but they would soon do
anything not to get on the boat.
''It can also get pretty chilly over there. The extremes of
weather, especially wind, would be the main feature, although
there's always a calm side of the island,'' she said.
''The highlight has been being back in tune with nature. It's
a beautiful place to be. There's so much wildlife around ...
''It's been amazing for the boys' relationship, too, as
they've only had each other. It's also really developed their
physical competence. But it's hard to get a babysitter with
Eli said he would miss swimming, visiting the island's cave
and making mini-aquariums.
''I'll miss everything. It will be too crowded in town. It's
never crowded on the island.''
''It's been funny having no neighbours and I've missed being
in a physical community,'' Ms Hughes said.
''That's been a big part of the push to move back into town
''It's going to be nice to be able to pop next door for a cup
of sugar again.''
St Martin Island Community Council chairwoman Jo Hunter said
last night it was hoped a new caretaker would be appointed by
the end of this month.