ferry back to Welly

I’m back in London fighting with sleep and will give up as soon as I post this entry.

I thought I should finish the story. Will it have a happy ending?

FRIDAY, 18th November

The bus from Christchurch to Picton via Kaikoura was late, but when I saw the driver, all was forgiven. Graham jumped off the bus and asked me “No pie?”, so I was kinda obliged to go and buy one, since we had still some spare time before the departure. I tried a seafood pie, which was really good with pieces of crabs, shrimps, but I didn’t like the mussel bit.

I was really happy that I could take my last trip on the South Island together with Graham. It was our 4th ride and just felt right. The road was along the coast and it was so beautiful. We passed seals playing in the Ocean or having a rest on the rocks. There were many road works on the way, which were making the bus late, but I trusted that Graham would get us safely and before my ferry to Wellington departs.

The vineyards of Marlborough

We were late about 20 minutes, but it was early enough to board the ferry on time.

Picton

Awesome weather for passing The Marlborough Sounds and Cook Strait.

When we were getting closer to Cook Strait, it started to rain.

Goodbye, the South Island!

Hello, Wellington!

After getting off the ferry and going out to the streets of Wellington, I got a headache from the noise of the traffic. I wasn’t aware how quiet the South Island was until I left it. That was the only moment when I didn’t like Wellington.

I took the shuttle from the terminal to the Railway Station and from there I went to the backpackers. This time I stayed at Lodge in the City on Taranaki Street; only $15 for a bed in a 10 bed dorm room. It wasn’t very tragic, but the kitchen was a real mess and it was a party hostel. I went to find some peace in the library, but when I came back in the evening, no one in the dining room was eating. They were drinking. When I went to bed, there was only one more person sleeping in my room, the rest of the guys were somewhere on Cuba Street.

from Wellington to Nelson

THURSDAY, 27th October

My South Island adventure began early morning, when a shuttle from the Railway Station platform 9 took me to Wellington Ferry Terminal ($2). I took the Interislander ferry as one of my flexitrips. I had been advised to choose a nice day to take a ferry, because the passing of Cook Strait may not be so enjoyable during strong wind and bad weather. But I didn’t have much choice and was happy to see that there was no reason to be afraid that I could get seasick.

I didn’t even notice when we left the terminal, so gently the ferry started its journey. It wasn’t sunny, but I could still see the hills surrounding the capital city. It took one our to leave Wellington Harbour. Miramar Peninsula on the left

Then one our to pass Cook Strait, which wasn’t that exciting, so I took a nap. Finally, the last hour was through Queen Charlotte Sound and getting to Picton.

When I left the terminal in Picton, I found my bus to Nelson already waiting at the bus stop. It was about 12 p.m. I left my big bag in the bus and I asked the driver when he was leaving. I clearly remember him saying 12:30, but I should have looked into my notebook anyway. I went back to the terminal to the toilet and look around. When I came back to the bus stop at 12:20, my bus was gone! Great, I thought, this was a nice beginning. I already started to hate the South Island. I looked into my notebook and saw that my bus was supposed to leave at 12:15 and it did. Why would the bus driver lie to me?! A cruel joke or I don’t understand Kiwi accent on this Island.

Anyway, I tried not to panic and went to the Visitor Centre to ask when was the next bus to Nelson, because my bag was already on its way there (seriously, it started its own journey; it’s big enough to do it 😉 ). A nice lady at the Centre showed me the timetable and she was worried about my reaction. Friday, 6 p.m. Did it mean that I would have to wait one day to get to a town 2.5 hrs away?! There was really NOTHING to do in Picton! Besides, I had already booked a hostel in Nelson and my bag was about to arrive there without me. I didn’t want it to feel lonely. Another option was a shuttle, but its driver had gone to Australia for a couple days. The lady called InterCity to ask if there was any way to contact my bus driver and find out what would happen to my bag. They told me he would leave it at Travel Centre in Nelson, but I wouldn’t get my trip back. Excellent, my bag started using my flexitrips. It better buy its own pass! Has anyone got a suggestion how to name my bag?

I had no other choice but to hitchhike. I thought if not locals, then maybe other travelers with a car could take me. I could even wait for another ferry and another flow of tourists. The lady got even more worried when I told her my plan, but she gave me a map and told me where would be the best place to get a hitch. I thanked her and off I went enjoying some sun on the way.

I didn’t have to wait long before a car stopped or rather… prepare yourselves…. A truck! When I saw it coming, I didn’t lift my hand, but it stopped anyway and the driver gave signs asking if I needed a lift. I opened the door and said that I had been told not to travel by trucks. He asked, why and I replied that truck drivers are dangerous. He laughed and so did I. He was a great guy and travelled a lot himself around the world for 10 years. He shared his stories, I shared mine and even though it wasn’t on his way (he wasn’t going to Nelson), he left me on a more convenient to me intersection where I would have a better chance of catching another car even straight to Nelson.

Soon after I got off and waved goodbye to the driver (he horned, so cool!), a car with two Chilean girls stopped. They had arrived in Picton the same ferry as me and rented a car from there. They were doing the South Island in two weeks and so it happened that their schedule was similar to mine but with more places to see on the way, since they were having a car and in shorter time. We exchanged our phone numbers and from that on, I could forget about booking InterCity buses for the next couple days. There were only 2 flexitrips left on my pass, but I thought it was better to give a couple bucks more on petrol and car and see more places in an interesting company than to buy more trips and travel in a company of my bag, which sometimes abandons me anyway.

OK, Nelson. I got there at about 3:30 p.m., one hour after my bag. I went to pick it up from the Transport Centre, found my hostel, Shortbread Cottage Backpackers, which was really good, had nice homely atmosphere, more Germans and some Asians. Oh, and FREE INTERNET! 😀

It was still sunny and fairly early, so I went to explore the town, even though I was really tired (had to get up after 6 a.m. to catch the ferry). I liked Nelson. I think it could be in my top 5 favourite New Zealand towns, but I’ll have to wait to give the final judgment. There are still some towns I haven’t seen yet.

Some trees and water had their ‘sweaters’ or statues had scarves.

Christ Church Cathedral

View from the hill, very futuristic clock tower of the Town Hall far in the distant

Cute old cottages on South Street

Am I still in New Zealand?!

I guess so… Centre of New Zealand on a hill in Botanic Gardens

I got back to the backpackers very tired…