A couple weeks ago was the start of my mid-semester break, when my flatmate Sarah and I went traveling in the North Island. We left Dunedin early Friday morning with our friend Laurel who drove with us up to Picton, where the inter-island ferry left for Wellington. Laurel was driving up to meet her father in Wellington and was nice enough to give us a ride in return for splitting gas and lodging money. Over the course of two days we drove up the east coast of the South Island to Picton, turning inland two-thirds of the way up to avoid some earthquake damage to the road.
The total driving time was about ten hours and we split it up over two days. We had a lot of fun during the trip, talking and laughing and listening to music in the car, and making some stops along the way whenever we saw signs for waterfalls or lakeside views. A nearby tropical storm was dumping lots of rain on us, but every so often we’d drive through a dry patch where the sun was trying to peek through the clouds. The drive took us through some gorgeous landscapes, jagged mountains and rolling hills and green valleys patch-worked with farms and fields.
We drove seven hours the first day before stopping at a campground three hours from Picton. We had originally planned to camp with a tent but it was still pouring rain, the ground was soaked, and the tent that Laurel had been loaned had no rain fly. Instead, we moved all our luggage into the two front seats, put the back seats down, and set up our sleeping bags in the back of the station wagon. It was a little cramped with three people but we made it work, and despite the hard floor I actually got some good sleep. The next morning we woke up early and drove through the mountains and up to Picton. The morning was cloudy and rainy, but as we drove the skies cleared and the sun came out.
We got to Picton an hour and a half before our 2:15 ferry, which gave us some much-needed time to walk around and stretch our legs. The day had turned sunny and beautiful so we took a picnic lunch in a park on the waterfront. The water was bright, bright blue and the bay was filled with boats, including our ferry which was absolutely huge!
At two we got on the ferry and settled in for the three to four-hour ride to Wellington. The ferry was massive and really nice, feeling more like a cruise ship than the ferries that I’m used to. We sat in the food court at the bow of the ship and took turns going out on the deck and enjoying the fresh air. The view from the ferry was beautiful, a clear sky and warm sun with green hills rising out of startlingly blue water.
By the time we got to Wellington, dusk was falling. After dropping our stuff in our room, which we shared with ten other people, we went to a nearby grocery store to pick up food for dinner. By the time we cooked dinner in the hostel kitchen, cleaned up, and got our stuff ready for the next day, it was time to go to bed because the next morning we were waking up early to catch a bus to the town of Napier!
Until next time,