4 March 2011
Taupo via Dessert Highway
and Wellington with the ferry
to Picton (South Island)
4 March 2011
From Picton via Dessert Highway and Wellington
with the Interislander ferry to Picton (South Island)
We're staying at the Lake Taupo Top 10 Holiday Park and planned to drive at 07.30 am. Now, we didn't make it. We had some personal starting problems this day and had to get rid of some waste water too. So it was after 09.00 am before we left Taupo. It rained regularly but the views at Lake Taupo, the largest Lake in New Zealand (about 616 square kilometers) were wonderfull. We drove about 40 kilometers alongside the Lake. After Lake Taupo we continued driving along the foothills of the Tongariro National Park but the views on the mountains were not to good. But the drive is great. It's climbing, descending and a lot of hairpins because you're in the mountains.
After the Tongariro National Park you arrive at the Dessert Highway, dessert because there is harly any vegetation. Every now and then we saw some sunshine. Dessert Road is also climbing and descending but the biggest part is a straight road so you can make some speed. In the first part we saw the snowcapped mountain, Mount Ruapehu (2797 meter), one of the most active vulcanos of New Zealand.
Near Waiouru we made a coffeestop for our daily cappucinno. For Jaap it was the third time that he went into this restautant that is managed by a Maori family. The cappucinno and the lunch we had here were more then good.
Near Levin on the westcoast of the North Island we are experiencing it's getting busier on the road. From Levin it's almost go traffic towards Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, were we came much later then expected. We parked the campervan near the Great WestPac Stadium (Rugby) and went on foot in Wellington. First we visited the old Railwaystation of Wellington, a beautiful piece of architecture. From there we walked through the crowded shopping streets on our way to the startpoint of the Cable Car. I knew where it would be, but it's difficult to find because there is only one small roadsign. We bought a round trip and within a few minutes we went our way up the hills of Wellington to the Botanic Gardens with it's magnificient lookout over the City and harbour. The Wellington Cable Car is one of Wellington's oldest and most popular tourist attractions. The first trip of the Cable Car was in 1902. Unfortunately it was clouded and a bit hazy.
Back Downtown we had a quick dinner in the BurgerKing en we visited 4 fotoshops searching for a cleaning tape for our videocamera that already wasn't functioning anymore. The 4th shop was bingo so we walked happily back to the campervan near the West Pac Stadium. We started the engine and drove to the ferryterminal. For the first time this day we were on time but now the ferry was arriving to late. Via a ramp I drive the campervan on board. Underneath us the trains are entering the feery one deck below us.
And then we leave. We sail in the Wellington Harbour for half an hour before entering Cook Strait. New Zealand has two Islands of about 1000-1100 kilometers long and the Cook Strait is about 30 kilometers wide. So there goes a lot of water through this strait and the sea can be very rough there. We were lucky today. The ferry sailed very stable to the South Island. After 1,5 hour we reach the shelter of the South Island and the ferry is entering the Tory Channel.
The Tory Channel is part of the Marlborough Sounds and the ferry is sailing for one hour through this extensive network of sea-drowned valleys created by a combination of land subsidence and rising seavels at the north of the South Island.
Slowly the evening falls over the South Island, it's getting dark and the mountains are fade away on both sides of the Sound.
In the dark the ferry moors in the Harbour of Picton. A few minutes later we can leave the ferry and are driving through Picton.
Only once I took a wrong exit but then I found the right street and we arrived at the Picton Top 10 Holiday Park. It's late and dark so we go immediately to bed. Tomorrow we'll ride the Queen Charlotte Drive and via Nelson to the Abel Tasman National Park.