The weather was not perfect today but it did not snow.
New day and back to cycling. Well rested after two three nights in a proper bed it is time to push the legs again. All packed up I left for the 9:05 Days Bay ferry to get to Wellington harbour where the much bigger Cook straight ferry was going to leave at 10:30 for the south Island.
Now, before some of the smart cookies out there point out that only 22 of the 92 miles clocked today were actually on dry land let’s just say hat It was going to be an intolerable pain in the ass to edit out the sea and I’ll just award myself the bonus milage as a well done for finishing the one island.
The Day’s Bay ferry was a lot smoother than the other day and taking pictures was easier, I still did not manage to take a satisfactory panorama picture of the Wellington skyline, but I can have another shot on the way back.
Getting to and into the ferry was pretty straight forward, I had some time to spare and had a little chat with the other two cyclist that were ferrying across. They were doing a short trip and in fact only had a backpack each, must be nice not going around with your whole house.
This was a pretty substantial ferry, on this passage there was no trains but, as you can see, the thing can actually load them. I think I might even have seen one being loade in Picton as I was taking the picture from the first part of Queen Charlotte Drive.
Traversing the Cook straight involves a great deal of coast hugging on the north side and then a fair bit of travelling into the maze which is the Marlborough Sounds.
I took some pictures form the upper deck but then, the day being what it was, I retreated to the lower deck where I read a bit, snoozed a bit and in general waited until the boat was entering in the sounds.
The south island welcome was not the warmest. It was dry for the most but it was windy and rather cold. Somehow though this gave the whole experience even more poignance. The rocks emerging from the sea, initially quite bare and then progressively more covered with lush vegetation were meeting my expectations of the south island but with added grandeur.
As the boat got deeper and deeper in the sounds I got on deck again and started to take more pictures. The deck was busy with many tourist doing just the same, luckily for them they did not have to drag along with them two bags full of the “valuables” that I cannot leave with the bike when I park it.
I think when I get back to base I will review my bike setup so that I can have a “postman” style bag as a handlebar bag. this will allow me to carry comfortably all the “valuables” and to be much more flexible in my life on the road.
Not long before we put into Picton, just before taking the picture that is at the top of the post and below so that you can view it in detail if you wish, we crossed the Interislander sister ship going back up to Wellington. I suspect this will be the one that I will catch when I’m on the way out of the south island in some six or seven weeks time.
The Picton seafront is quite busy, many sailing boat, probably sheltering from the harshness of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea and a good deal of commercial traffic which however seams to be distributed along the coast leaving the Picton port free to be used mainly for the two ferry operator’s routes.
I did not stop in Picton. the plan was to get to Havelock, some 20 miles along the coast, in order to leave only 36 miles for tomorrow to get to Nelson. The route to Havelock, Queen Charlotte Drive, follows the coast and it is heavily undulated by very scenic too. I stopped in several viewing spots just for the fun of looking around and taking pictures even if the low milage today made me not resent too much even of the two steep hills along the way.
Along the route I also took a picture of the lovely gorse that has been described to me at the week end as “Scotland gift to the world”. I actually really like it and I remember trying to convince Tarn, unsuccessfully I have to add, to have some in the garden. Apparently millions of dollars are spent in New Zealand each year trying to control its spread.
The last stop for the day was for a drink in a little bay where there was a bench next to a guy that was sliding his boat into sea. I sat on the bench, took the picture below and kept thinking how cool would be going around this island in the boot that was moored just in front of me.
I got into Havelock while it was starting to rain and I managed to do all the camp paperwork while the worse of it was coming down. After that I found a nice quiet spot surrounded by boats to make sure I was both sheltered and in quiet company.
After I finished the setting up it rained a bit more but I was in the comunal area now preocessing the pictures for the day and when it filally cleared I decided to take on the offer that the place laid at my feet: try the “best green shell mussels in the world”.
The camp had given me a voucher for a kg of mussels at $15 and I thought there was little to loose in trying them, especially as I love them.
A kilogram of Green Shell mussels looks like a lot and it is indeed a lot but, and I bet you are not completely surprised, I managed to finish them.
As first days in a new land go it was not all that bad but It was not perfect, I’m sure tomorrow will be better.
Thirteen years ago today it was a perfect day even if, where I was, it snowed in the afternoon.