Saturday 1 Feb 2014
We drove to Wellington on Saturday morning. Our ferry crossing to the South Island wasn’t until 5pm, but we wanted to make sure we were well placed to go, as this was a crossing we didn’t want to miss ;)
Our first stop in Wellington was Mt. Victoria Lookout. Welllington is a city with hills and narrow streets that rival those in San Francisco. I was glad that Preston was driving, as the drive to the lookout was quite dicey at times ;)
Wellington is one of the windiest cities in the world. The air that flows through the Cook Straight bears down on this area sometimes wreaking havoc. As we climbed from the carpark to the top of the lookout, we really felt that wind. It was a cloudy, breezy day that threatened rain. We took some pictures and the sun started to poke through the clouds.
|I knew before he even walked over there that this is what he'd do ;)|
We descended the narrow drive back into the heart of the city to the Te Papa Museum. The Museum had free admission and exhibits on NZ’s local flora/fauna, geothermal activity, and native Maori people. One of the best parts was the colorful map on the floor. We spent a few hours there and I was in my element. I love museums and I love anything to do with geology and volcanoes even more.
|Blue Whale Heart|
After Te Papa, we headed to the guidebook recommended Cuba Street for some delicious and cheap fish and chips. Cuba Street was full of funky shops and a promenade cut off to cars. We strolled in the warm sun and listened to street musicians perform before heading over to the Ferry dock.
We were among the first to line up to get on the boat and had to wait a while before we could drive on. I ended up driving into the hull of the ship…my only driving on the North Island!! Ha!!
The Ferry was comfortable and we sat on a couch in the lounge to enjoy the views. You could feel nearly every rocking of the ship, so it was a bit terrifying to go outside. The crossing took about 3.5 hours. We arrived to Picton, our port on the South Island in the dark.
Luckily, our hostel for the night was very near to the Ferry terminal and we found it quickly. Again, we were in another little cottage type place. This one felt very much like going to Grandma’s house (not my Grandma--she's a bit more modern ;)). It was full of mismatched odds and ends and knick knacks. It was also full to the gills with people. We had a private room, but there was a lot of noise and tomfoolery ;) late into the night.
Sunday 2 Feb 2014
|Grandmother's House :D|
We took our time in the morning, enjoying the free and unlimited internet :P We packed in the car excited to start our trip on the South Island.
We had about a four hour drive to reach Westport on the west coast. We started the drive through the beautiful vineyards of Blenheim, before winding through a valley wedged between two mountain ranges. This road must have been some kind of bike route, because there were many bicyclists and motorcyclists. We traveled along a sweeping river gorge, wide in its rocky expanse, but only trickling water in the hot summer sun. The mountains bordering the coast were capped with heavy gray clouds. The coast, itself, was misty but humid. The sun burned through the mist to keep the temperature warm.
|Clouds coming from the coast|
Tauranga Bay was listed in my “Lonely Planet” book as having one of the top 5 surf spots in NZ, so that was our destination. There was a van right on the beach renting surfboards. Preston was quick to hit the water and I sat on the sand and read my book.
|My best attempt at an action shot ;)|
We continued down the windswept coast for miles. It was a gorgeous drive. The weather beaten road twisted and turned along the rocky shoreline. The ocean was choppy and sprays of water rose from its surface as we drove past.
|Contemplating the beauty of it all|
We stopped off for a little hike through the rain forest to the shore.We didn't linger long to see the waves pound the shore, because we were eaten alive by mosquitoes (or mozzies, as they call them here).
|Jacket to avoid the mozzies|
We reached the seaside town of Greymouth, which is the biggest ‘city’ on the west coast. Our hostel was busy and colorful…decorated with African themes. We had a private loft sort of room, but had a shared bathroom. We got groceries, had twice baked potatoes and fizzy wine on the deck and went to bed early.
My planning of the South Island part of our trip was hurriedly done that day in Fiji and I messed up a bit with the timing of things. I have us spending tomorrow night in Mt. Cook, which is not far how a crow flies, but the roads do not connect. We have to head back east and then south to reach our destination. We’ll have about 6 hours in the car, but I’m glad to see Arthur’s Pass…another scenic route.