Marlborough Sounds (2012)      © Fiona Terry
 

The day before we arrived at Raetihi Lodge in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds a pod of around 40 dolphins had turned up in the bay and swum past. A stunning sight for anyone but for the happy couple who'd just exchanged wedding vows at the secluded lodge, a truly spectacular highlight to an already perfect day.

Like many others who've got married here, they have vowed to return every year for a romantic getaway. They'd chosen the laid-back luxury of the 14-bedroom waterfront retreat after spotting it on the internet. Although the lodge first opened its doors to the public in 1935, following a fire in 2000 the majority was re-built, with the opportunity seized to create a fresh, modern but cosy feel.

Prior to tying the knot the bride had spent the morning having a relaxing massage with the lodge's onsite expert Juli, followed by more pampering in the tranquillity of her seaview room overlooking the stunning Kenepuru Sound. The groom, on the other hand, had opted for a different view of the Sound - from the 13-hole Nopera Bay Golf Club just 4km away, where sheep are the locals' answer to green-keepers for the majority of the course. Two of the wedding party who'd joined the groom there had come specially from Ireland and no doubt loved the novelty of sharing the course with the woolly residents, pukekos and wild ducks.

Anyone who's ever questioned the intelligence of sheep might like to think again about those grazing the fairways here...