"I wanna hang a map of the world at my house. Then I wanna stick pins in the locations that I`ve traveled to.
...But first I have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won`t fall down."
-Mitch Hedberg

Friday, April 23, 2010

Next stop, the South Island!

After an excellent week in Wellington, we finally bid farewell to the North Island. The North Island has been good to us, but we’re stoked to head down to the beautiful South Island before the weather turns too cold. Apparently once it happens it’s brutal.

Our tickets for the Interislander ferry were actually pretty affordable - NZ$220 total for 2 people and a van. Bluebridge is the other Cook Strait ferry, and we found that one isn't consistently cheaper than the other, it just depends on the day. Also, prices are a lot lower if you've done your planning and can book a ferry date in advance (as per usual, we had not). But we were able to book a mid-morning sailing – the most beautiful part of the ride is when the ship enters the Queen Charlotte Sound during the last hour of the trip. So we settled into our comfy reclining seats by the window and lazed away the morning.

The ship we were on wasn’t what we imagined – a hollowed out freighter with rickety car ramps. Instead it was a nine deck marvel. I’ve worked on cruise ships in Hawaii, so I’ve seen luxury vessels underway, and while the Interislander ship might not be up to those same standards, it is way more impressive than it has a right to be for the quick three hour voyage. It comes equipped with a movie theater on the lower deck, several caf├ęs and eateries, coffee shops on the upper decks, fully reclining seats, kids’ areas where boisterous youngsters can watch cartoons or burn off their unending energy away from other passengers, full length windows fore and aft for viewing while underway, a fully licensed bar with a back patio, video game arcade room, satellite tv, and a top deck for taking 360 degree pictures of the Sound. It’s pretty slick.
When the ship landed, Care and I drove Flash onto Southern soil and into the little hamlet Picton. The beach in town is a good place to relax – we took a nap in the grass because we’d to gotten up before dawn to catch our boat – and is a natural gathering place for other travelers. People-watching is pretty good, and there’s a small mini golf course just off the sand. After a quick swim and a spin around the local library (free wifi), Care and I headed to the Kahikatea DOC campsite on the eastern bay of the Marlborough Sounds.

It was a removed location with access to the water and great hikes along the sand. We made friends with a paradise duck – they’re usually really skittish, so that was cool – and also chatted with some humans.

One elderly couple, Graeme and Jackie, came over to compliment us on our van setup (mostly the twinkle lights), and next thing we know we’re sitting in their snazzy camper talking about the realities of travel, freedom camping, camper van associations, solar power, fruit picking, the harvest trail in New Zealand, glue-gun crafts, and the life that they’ve lead on the road for the past six years. They were such happy, friendly, helpful people who taught us so much about what we’re doing on our trip, but more importantly, what we might do better. It was a great encouragement for us to continue the nomadic lifestyle, and a rad way to get pumped up for the second leg of our trip.

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4 comments:

  1. job well done! finally moving from one island to the next :) keep us travelers proud!!!! we are in tokyo thinking of you and us partying back in NYC someday!!!!!!

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  2. I love Picton... there was nothing really there but a great kite flying park and a pretty decent burger joint. I took advantage of both. I hope you did as well.

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  3. I liked the park.

    No burger, though we did have a GREAT one in another town...

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  4. Can't wait to party with you two in NY.

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