CHRISTCHURCH TO WELLINGTON
Up earlier than the crack of dawn and a 10 minute walk took us to the temporary bus “terminus” – the permanent terminus being closed off in the “Red Zone”. At 7.00 the bus got underway. The dodgy bus heater on this cold and frosty morning meant we had to wait until sunrise to get properly warm!
Even so, it was a good choice to go on the bus rather than fly, as the driver, John, gave a running commentary about the area and local history as we progressed up the island. We drove through a hilly, sheep rearing range of hills called the Cheviot Hills, which reminded me of home as we live only about 60km away from the Cheviot Hills in England. We stopped for a 30 minute break at Kaikoura, which gave us enough time to get a feeling of this touristy town before moving on. There were lots of vineyards along the way – an industry that is actually quite significant throughout NZ. The road followed the railway line at the edge of the coast for a large part of the way, and we took in
the beautiful changing scenery together with a New Zealand Fur Seal colony on the way. If you have time, this is a good way to travel. Just over 5 hours after leaving Christchurch we arrived at Picton, the main port servicing the South Island for the ferry to the North Island.
The Ferry Journey. A nice touch about the inter-island ferries is they have baggage check in and collection similar to an airport but without the security checks. This was good as it saved us having to keep an eye on our rucksacks for the 3+ hour journey. The ferry was called the Kaitaki with a home port of Portsmouth, but its former name, the Pride of Cherbourg, gave it away as an old cross-channel (English Channel) ferry. Even though it was the end of autumn, it was warm enough to stay outdoors on the sun deck for the first hour of the journey through the Queen Charlotte Sound out to the coast. The scenery along the Sound was beautiful, and there were a large number of private homes along the banks that were only accessible by water – presumably owned as holiday homes or by
No Mans Land?
Just a picture of miles of vinyards.
recluses. Nice to see but who would want to really live there on a permanent basis? Once out to sea, we went below and had a game of cards while looking out over the sea of the Cook’s Straits from our table. No I didn’t cheat while Valda was looking out of the window, but perhaps I should have as she won the cards overall. On arrival, we picked up our rucksacks and were picked up by my brother-in-law David who whisked away to his home in the Wellington suburb of Whitby for a very welcome meal. So - on to Wellington and its surrounds.
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