13 February 2014
From Napier via Masterton and
Wellington with the ferry to
Picton on the South Island
The alarm was put very early. As early as 6 am, he went off, a quick shower and breakfast and set off. We drive around 6:35 am from the beautiful Holiday Park in Napier. Why so early? Well; in the initial planning I had taken account of the departure of the Interislander ferry at 14:30 pm, but in the beginning of December the largest Interislander ferry, the Aratere, was heavy damaged and would not sail for at least 6 months. From that moment, the capacity for the crossing of vehicles and passengers by Interislander was decreased by 40%, while the other two ferries were continuously cruising. That same week I booked at Blue Bridge so I didn't have to make major changes in our schedule. The only problem, in this case, is that Bluebirdge ferry departs from Wellington one hour earlier, and in addition you have to be there one hour ahead for the check in. So that's why we're so early out of bed and at daybreak already on our way, because we must be there one hour earlier already at 12.30 pm.
Video Napier to Wellington
Furthermore, it is for us a part of New Zealand where we've never been, so we are not familiar with difficult sections of road along the way. According to the route we would be in Wellington in about four hours, but it appears to as an easy drive. So much so that only 2 weeks later, while we were still in New Zealand, we got by mail the penalty of the New Zealand traffic police for speeding. Fortunately peanuts compared with our penalties and I drove barely too fast. We drive via Highway 2 along Hastings and Wapukurau and take in Woodville not Highway 3 to Palmerstone North but we'll continue our way south on Highway 2., We doubted a bit but in Woodville Highway 2 was clearly identified as the fastest way to Wellington. In Woodville we made a short stop for a cappuccino; It was still so early that we were the first customers and then we immediately continued in the direction of Masterton and Upper Hutt. After Upper Hut you get Lower Hutt (really, not joking). Both are fairly large suburbs of Wellington. In Lower Hutt, we saw a sign "Harbour View" and since we were nicely on time, because the journey fell along in time, we took this exit.
Harbour View; The word implies, it is a view over the harbour. Campervan parked on Harbour View Road and we saw that we had to walk a dark forest path with a small climb, well for beautiful views we do a lot. Unclear where the end of the path was and uncertain what we were going to see, we continued climbing all sweating through. Yes finally the end of the path, uh mmm where is that magnificent view now? Well it wasn't there, so I have taken some pictures just between some of the houses from the harbour and then quickly continue our last few kilometres to the ferry. The ferry terminal of Blue Bridge is a few kilometres beyond that of Interislander. Bluebridge is really in the city centre of Wellington. We sign in and then drive straight to the staging lanes. On the stroke of half past twelve the loading begins and all quite smoothly, we drive onboard of the ferry.
This ferry, the Straitsman, is built in the Netherlands. In my previous travels I sailed six times with Interislander and now for the first time with Bluebridge. Afterwards not necessary because Interislander had sailing a replacement ship, the Stena Alegra into service since early January. This ship is leased from the Stena Line. The weather is beautiful and after we have lost the campervan on the back of the outside deck, we take the elevator up and go to the deck to sit in the sun. Nice and fantastic views over Wellington. The ferry departs right on time and will sail to Picton in between 3.5 and 4 hours. We are looking forward to it, because it is a beautiful crossing and we sit in the sun on the 10th floor of the boat including cinema and restaurants, with lot of beautiful views in prospect. But we are still in the harbour when we suddenly hear a car alarm going off; Still, not ours? No certainly not. But later we find out that it belongs to our Campervan.
Video Wellington Harbour
(From Karin's blog):
"Just done if we were stupid it will stop automatically one time. The sky is blue, so the South Island can be seen soon, on the open sea the wind is hard so we go inside for a short time and we eat something. I'm getting a little restless and at the first sight of the Marlborough Sounds I need to go outside though Jaap assured me that there's still enough time. But I already know that the goose bump moment is going to come there, and yes, at the entrance of the Tory Chanel with on both sides a magnificent view over the mountains there are my the tears of emotion again. I cannot really explain, but my thought was: Paradise exists and the world is more than good !".
It is a wonderful journey of nearly 1.5 hours through the Marlborough Sounds. It is a low fjord area on the north side of the South Island and through the fjords you sail to Picton Harbour where all ferries moor. It is a rare and beautiful world where houses and farms are located on the fjord which do not lie on a public road and therefore must be supplied via the water. You get a wonderful feeling inside you (as Karin has been described above), because New Zealand is beautiful, but the South Island is super beautiful. It is still the ultimate part of New Zealand where I wish I could go every day for a good time.
The ferry moors at the quay and then the long wait before we can finally go riding. The loading and unloading of the New Zealand ferry takes quite a lot of time even though the Roll-On Roll-off system. Well known in Picton we drive straight to the Blue Anchor Top 10 Holiday Park, where I will be staying for the 4th time.
We check in and buy a monthly pass of IAC Internet with unlimited access to the Internet. This company has been providing Internet access to nearly all Top 10 Holiday Parks and many Kiwi Holiday Parks. It is the right thing to do, because you just save a lot of money. We then look at just where our power site for the night is, and then with the campervan straight back to the harbour. We park the campervan and actually immediately the alarm goes off again. All doors open and close again, and then wait for a short while and see. It remains quiet and we go to the harbour site where we book a tour with the mail boat for the next day in the activity centre. We get our tickets and we decide to do some shopping in Mainstreet. We bought a birthday card for Gea and did it straight into the Mail Box. Pushed too hard? Any way the card has never arrived in the Netherlands, while we had the address and everything checked. Karin buys at the pharmacy drops for her ears while she still suffers from pain since the flight to New Zealand and we buy repellant against the Sandflies. In another shop I buy the successor to my New Zealand Travellers Road Atlas, the South Islands Complete Drivers Atlas by Kiwi Maps.
Then we go back to the Holiday Park for our dinner and for the night. Because I cannot put it into words as nice and funny as Karin stated in her Weblog, I use her Weblog writing below:
"On the campsite I'm start cooking spaghetti and Jaap had to go to the reception because of some problems with the Internet connection. It was pretty busy in the kitchen, everyone obviously just arrived. Think we have some 15 people standing in the kitchen to cook, is really very cozy. But what do I hear now? God damn, curses and some more bad words. Again our camper alarm went off. I couldn't immediately find the reception desk, meanwhile 2 neighbors came after me and told me that our alarm went off, yes, yes, i know, ich weiss..... "Jaap ... where are you", because he has the keys of the campervan and the spaghetti is almost cold by now. Really nice those problems with our camper. If there's anyone who knows how to turn off all those messages and beeps than we like to know! There's even a beep if you keep your foot on the clutch a little too long, or for example if you have switched it in the second gear and the car finds that it should have been in the first gear. Grgrgrgrg. But otherwise everything is okay. Now first a good beer and a glass of wine and I say again; till tomorrow!"