Friday, 16 March 2012

Bye Bye South - Hello North Island!

Overnight, the 'sunniest place in New Zealand' had the worst storm of the year. The winds reached over 100 kph and many trees came down blocking roads and knocking out power lines. The noise of a storm on a camper van roof is quite loud!

A little tired, we drove to Nelson to attend the 'best farmers market in the area'. When we arrived we guessed it was the only farmers market in the area. 

We drove back towards Blenheim before taking a small country road just passed Havelock - the 'world famous' capital of the Green Lipped Mussel.

Within 10 minutes we were in the Marlborough Sounds (and these are sounds and not fjords!)

Looks like a sound

Imagine what it would look like in the sun! 

The drive along the sounds was twisty and narrow, and we averaged about 30 kph all the way to Picton - the Dover of the South Island. Due to the storm overnight, all of the ferries had been cancelled for the day and our crossing the next day was in doubt.


We woke up to news that the ferries were indeed running again, and so after brunch and a catch up with Maurice & Anna our new German friends (we have seen them randomly every other day for the last week) we went to check in.

Three hours later and with news that the Cook Straight was 'heavy and less than favourable' (heavy is one less than cancelled and means 5m seas!) we were on board and sailed through Queen Charlotte Sound en route to Wellington and the North Island.

Dark sky but calm seas
The cruise through the sound was fine - a slight rock. Then we were in the open sea. Rough doesn't come close.
The ninety minutes spent on the Cook Straight claimed many victims to sea sickness - even some hard core Harley bikers! But we were fine and were glad to see the calmer waters of Wellington Bay.
Calm again

Another storm brewing?

It was late and dark and we headed for our campsite in the centre of Wellington. It was called Wellington Waterfront Motor-home Park, and it literally was a motor-home park like a car park for motor-homes with a porta-cabin ablution block. But it was in the middle of Wellington so that's the trade off I guess.

We woke up at 5am when a fire engine went passed on the main road 3m away from our heads, and then again at 6am when the commuters started arriving for work, so we gave in and got up.

The first stop was the Parliament. Different to the Houses of Parliament in London as you could walk straight in! The 'Beehive' is the 'world famous' Parliament chamber.



We wandered through town, ran into a chap we met in Dunedin and headed off to the waterfront to visit Te Papa Tongawera, the biggest museum in New Zealand.

The front on the water
Amy's new job as a swimming instructor was over before it really started

Te Papa Tongawera

After running into Maurice & Anna on the escalator, we agreed to meet up for a beer soon, and made a beeline to the Colossal Squid exhibition. It is the only specimen in the world on display and is now carefully preserved to stop it shrinking and deteriorating further. At nearly 500kg, the squid rings would be a mouthful for most people!


Big kids!

Te Papa has loads of interactive displays and exhibitions, and one of the most impressive was the aerial map of New Zealand.

We wandered around the museum learning about earthquakes, volcanoes, how New Zealand was formed and the perils of lying on a fault line before walking back through Wellington's main square and up to the iconic cable car station.

Beats Aylesbury town centre
We rode the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens and had a great view of the city too.

Great view

Good for the hayfever

We made the most of the sun by having a beer or two on the water front with Damien, a friend from Aylesbury who moved to Wellington 4 years ago, before scoffing a Wagyu beef burger and heading back to our luxurious camp ground. A good first day in the North!

Damo n Dave

No comments:

Post a Comment