Title, once again, provided courtesy of M.Hatter Suggestions Ltd.
So, we were leaving the North Island, at Wellington, to catch the ferry to the south island. I was sorry to say goodbye to Wellington in a way. There were areas I hadn’t quite made it to, but had looked longingly at from the bus (the buses are, like Auckland, super efficient and seem to charge off the overhead electricity lines which cover the main streets). Gorgeous art deco buildings painted bright colours containing interesting shops and restaurants. Of course there lies the problem and the reason that it was good not to be there longer. Shops, bars and restaurants are not ideal for the backpacker budget. We briefly went up to an area called Newtown suggested to us by our barman the night before which was obviously up and coming but didn’t have a lot going on. The oddest thing was that tons of the shops were selling Lais – never worked out why that was. Plus there was lots of drunks and weirdos so made me feel homesick for Brighton!
There was one shop, in central Wellington, which I’m amazed Mark let me in, as he normally rolls his eyes if I am closer than 10 yards of a book shop. It was a massive shop, with some new, but mainly second hand books. It was mind blowing. Everything you could possibly think of. I particularly like the book on how to build a funky chicken coop. I would love a shop like that at home. Most second hand book shops are stuffy and dis-organised. But I couldn’t by anything anyway so it was really just tortuous.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse and there was rain and gales which was making life outside the comfy hostel, less than tempting. We are gonna miss that hostel and our private bathroom and TV but I think actually, after only 3 days we were a bit sick of all the mainly brainless crud that was on and the tendency we had to sit and watch said crud, rather than get up and go out and do something. So, it’s actually a good thing to have it just now and then. Feels more like a treat.
The ferry terminal was an easy, short trip from the train station, from which are hostel was conveniently situated opposite.
The ease of check in and the journey itself was a revelation after our 20 hour journey from hell in Fiji (which incidentally covered about the same distance as this 3 hour one!!!). It was all straight forward and you could see immediately as the boat pulled in down into Picton, that the landscape of the south island was quite different to the north.
As usual in New Zealand the journey consisted of very tricky directions. It was get onto Highway 1 and follow it all the way to Kaikoura. This is a small seaside town about half way between Picton and Christchurch. I’ve barely used the maps in New Zealand it’s usually so simple. There were some amazing mountains we went past and through and we were both quite impressed. Whereas the north was mainly just trees and farms, this was more varied, spread out and colourful. The number of sheep, however, I did notice increased big time.
The trip down the highway found very little traffic. This was 5.30pm on a Friday night – not being able to move on any road in the south east of England at that time, I couldn’t quite work out what was going on. Plus this was the main route from the ferry down to Christchurch and much of the south. New Zealand isn’t busy at the best of times, not even in the cities, but this was just bizarre.
We did, however, not always move quickly due to some windy roads but also due to the fact that quite a few of the vintage cars we had seen on our way down to Wellington, had come back to the south island on the ferry so, with most highways being one lane, you had to wait until there was a special passing lane portion of the road, which wasn’t very often here. But that was ok. It didn’t hold us up much and there were some great cars to goggle at.
After we’d passed the last vintage car, we didn’t see a huge amount of cars for the rest of the journey. The highway, moved out to follow the coast which was quite stunning. The strangest thing was though, the colour of beach. It was grey. Not like some of the brown sand beaches we’d seen but quite a light, slate grey. I’d never heard of grey beaches before.
We’d seen a sign at Picton which said that Kaikoura was 128 kilometres away. That would be the last distance sign we would see. So we didn’t really have much of an idea how far away we were from the place for most of the journey. When we did eventually make it we were pleased to see that it did live up to the description of ‘quaint, seaside town’ that so many places profess to be and quite frankly just aren’t (Encinitas, San Diego – I’m looking at you).
This little town is home to lots of sea life – whales, dolphins, seals and is famous for it’s crayfish, which the town is named after – I think Kaikoura means ‘to catch crayfish’ or something like that. Pretty quickly upon reaching town, and scanning the menus in the various restaurants we were gutted to realise that crayfish are lobster prices (in fact I think they are virtually lobsters anyhow).
The beach, just 2 minutes down the road from where we are staying is pebble, so like Brighton on that front, but the pebbles are all grey – like the sandy beaches were. The pebbles are gorgeous – the kind you’d pay a fortune for to put in your garden, in the zen corner or around your water feature.
A short drive up the road is home to the furry seal colony. These are indeed furry and some of them at certain angles look like bears.
There are vast areas of rocks around there, upon which you can walk out a fair way.
We are here for 7 nights, the longest we’ve stayed anywhere since our first stop at the Beachhouse in Fiji. We are looking forward to chilling out a bit and just feeling a bit more at home somewhere. Our hostel the Albatross is lovely, if a little cramped in the communal areas and we have the beach close by, the shops a short walk away and stunning scenery all around. We went up to a lookout point only to find that we are on some kind of small peninsula and have the beach on both sides of us. So we’re not going to be short of things to do (or not do, which will also be nice).
For those of you complaining that there are never pictures of me on here (hello Mum), here you go – this is as good as you’re gonna get
And best news of all – the sun has come out and it has warmed right up (hopefully no more lady jeans for Mark!).