Shifting Islands

We had a lazy start today, being in no rush. We had our usual breakfast then packed up to leave. Fortunately we could say our goodbyes directly to our charming, hospitable hosts. We headed out for Picton where we were scheduled to take the Bluebridge ferry across Cook Strait to the north island. We’ve spent the last two weeks traveling the south island, racking up 2,750 km. What seems like a relatively small country on the map isn’t really so in a small car driving every day. But it has been a joy thus far!

We paused along the way in Havelock for coffee for me. Dian has been very tolerant of my daily ritual, as I only have a cup of instant coffee (albeit Starbucks) in our abodes, then one cup of “flat white” on the road. Reminds me of Spain.

We were surprised to find ourselves crossing up and over more mountains before coming across winery fields. We’ve been seeing many fields over the time here covered in netting, presumably to keep the birds from enjoying the grapes before us wine drinkers do. We were also amused to come up behind what appeared to be a grape harvester.

We were only a mile and a half away from the ferry but still saw only steep hills and not a bit of water or a boat. Then, boom! There was the ferry check in spot. Now, being from the Puget Sound area I’m accustomed to ferries. But this is not one of those! First off we had to book online ahead of time, then we had to be there and hour ahead of sail time. We tend to be early which has worked consistently in our favor. Cars were already lining up when we arrived just before 12:30 for our 1 pm check in. We sat in line for quite awhile when I finally said I was popping inside the building to use the bathroom. Just as I was coming out Dian was coming to get me to say the line was moving! And I’m the driver! We hopped in and snaked our way to the check in booth. Then we waited again. We clearly were not going to sail on time at 2 pm. Finally about 2:45 Dian did as I did earlier and went inside to use the facilities. And wouldn’t you know that’s exactly when they started to load the ferry! I drove up to the head of the line and explained what the situation was and the staff was kind enough to let me hold there until Dian walked out, assessed things and scurried down the holding lane. Going on board we were amazed to find all the semi trucks parked and facing backwards! This is not a drive on drive off kind of ferry. We had to drive on then turn in a U to be ready to drive off. Then we had to secure the car and head up to the passenger area as they close off the vehicle decks. We found a great table looking out ahead, having a beautiful, calm passage out of the Picton Harbor. Once we crossed into the Strait things began rolling a bit, but nothing too bad. After 3 1/2 hours we pulled into Wellington harbor. The offload went smoothly, passing through an industrial area, complete with an amazing amount of stacked logs. Guess that’s where all those logging trucks we passed were headed.

Going through the city to find our house was quite the harrowing experience. Roads went every which way, a tunnel appeared with an inordinate amount of honking going on, hills were climbed, a New World supermarket was happily found and then our 100 year old bungalow.

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