Today we had a leisurely start with the bus only collecting us from the hostel at 8:40am but before we got comfortable on the bus we made a quick stop just outside Kaikoura at Ohau Point, home to a seal colony. A short 5 minute walk from the road you come to a waterfall where you can see the very cute baby fur seals frolicking in the Ohau stream.
After this nice little treat it was back on the bus and up to Picton where we would catch the ferry up to the North Island. Along the way we passed Lake Grassmere and the natural salt flats where most of New Zealand’s salt is produced. Then we had a brief our morning tea stop at a small town called Ward, in the heart of Marlborough, one of the most renowned wine-producing regions of New Zealand famous for their Sauvignon Blanc.
We arrived in Picton with a couple of hours to spare before the ferry so after checking in my bags I headed into town to get some lunch and take some photos of this pretty little harbour town.
The Interislander Ferry sailed on time at 1:45pm and the weather was fantastic for the crossing. A few clouds just to make the photos more dramatic and fairly calm seas so seasickness wasn’t a problem. Although the wind was a little bracing I spent most of the three-hour crossing on the observation deck taking in the picturesque scenery of the Marlborough Sounds, the open ocean of the Cook Strait and the dramatic arrival in Wellington at sunset but I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Once off the ferry and having collected my luggage I caught the shuttle bus for NZ$2 to the train station in town from where it was supposed to be a 20-25 minute walk to the hostel. While I was trying to make sense of the map and which direction I was supposed to be walking in a guy came up and asked where I was going? Looking over his shoulder I saw the gold minivan and trailer that belonged to him and had my doubts. He did have a handwritten chalk board listing a few hotels and the YHA hostel where I was booked to stay so I asked him how much. He quoted me NZ$10 to which I said no and returned to my now unfolded map. He then said make it NZ$5 which I still thought was a little too much prompting him to give up. Then one of the three Irish girls I had met jumped out of the minivan, thinking I was lost which I kind of was, and came to convince me to take the offer as they were going to the same hostel. It was now dark and starting to drizzle so I took the offer of NZ$5 and loaded my bags into the trailer. The driver was rather curmudgeonly about having to offer us such discounts and if the gold exterior of the van wasn’t enough the inside had to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately my camera was packed away in the trailer but he had a Phil Collins DVD playing on a DIY mounted flat screen for our viewing pleasure in the back with the sound blasting through the car stereo system, neon runners on the ceiling and rotating disco lights at the flick of a switch. Not to mention his very opinionated views on rugby and the state of the modern game but he did deliver us to the door of our hostel and I think we were all a little relieved to be out of the minivan, and it would have quite a walk otherwise.
After settling in to my six bed dorm, freshening up and having a bite to eat from the New World supermarket conveniently located just across the road I walked up the road to Molly Malones to meet up with the Irish girls for a drink. It was a great little pub with lots of character and Irish posters all over the walls. They had a Battle of the Bands going on but the bands weren’t up to much so we went in search of a more happening bar but J.J. Murphy’s around the corner was dead so a little disappointed we headed back towards the hostel when passed a club called “The Establishment” that looked a little more lively and went in for a drink and some dancing.
Despite several attempts to get the DJ to play a request it became apparent that he was not about to deviate from his playlist that wasn’t all that great we finally gave up and headed back to the hostel. After all we had an early start on the Magic Bus the next day.