Finishing up my time in the south island. It is really surreal to drive away from a place and think that you might never come back – but then again you might. 🙂 Anyway, I got up early so that I could catch my afternoon ferry. Stayed overnight at the ‘Shortbread’ hostel. It was a delightful little house converted into a hostel. Met a couple neat people there – and the first 2 Americans of the trip. I think I enjoy the smaller/converted house type hostels because you can get to know others there much easier and sitting around the living rooms feel very family-style. Interestingly enough, everywhere I go, whenever people from many different countries try to pick a channel on tv – this same course of events keeps occurring. It doesn’t seem to matter where the folks are from. If there are any number of females, they will inevitably want to see Desperate Housewives. If there is a majority of females, they will win and about half the guys will simply get up and go do something else (read book/internet/laundry). If the guys win, they will usually want to see a movie (since not much else is usually on). I’m surprised at the wide-spread appeal of the Desperate Housewives show – and that it’s this popular with women from many different countries (Aust/Europe/SE Asia/etc).
But on to things that matter. I got up early and went to Jens Hansen – the gold/jewelry shop of the fella who designed the One Ring for the Lord of the Rings movie. It’s a small shop, but he actually has replicas for sale for about $700-1200usd depending on the karats of gold it has. I stopped and talked with the designer’s son (the father passed away before the movie was even finished) and looked through their really cool photo book that told the story of how the rings were chosen/etc. I kept the stop short because of my limited time and the salesperson said that literally thousands of people come all the time to the place. You could tell she’d given that speech at least a hundred times herself. I got a move-on because I had a two hour drive to Picton where the inter-island ferry was waiting to take me across to the north island – and I didn’t dare miss it.
Picton is a beautiful little port town in a narrow fjord-like channel. It had some wonderful little shops and the weather was perfect and sunny. It was hard to believe that the seas were so bad yesterday that they couldn’t even have ferry crossings. I had to drop my rental car off at the ferry pick-up spot – and found out how I was to get the new car on the north island. As a testament to laid-back, relaxed nature of the average New Zealander, I was instructed to call a woman’s home cel number when I went to drop off the rental car at the ferry stop. She walking over, read the mileage, and went “Yep”. Wow. After having the car for several weeks, there was no serious going overs with a comb for dents/etc. Eased my mind since some places get ridiculously over-protective of their rentals.
So I board the boat with all my stuff, go up to the top deck (this thing had 6 floors and a roof deck). I then wait to leave – hoping all the while I won’t get desperately ill or that we’ll run into terrible swells. While up there, I run into the 3 English travelers that I had been playing tag with all along. We have a surprised and happy reunion and start catching up. Before I know it, we’re leaving dock and heading out into the bay of islands that leads out to the north island. The trip is about 3 hours and the weather and seas are perfect. The sun is setting and I get a couple of great sunset shots from the boat.
The ferry is just like riding one in Seattle, but bigger. There are trucks here hauling livestock, so if you go to the back of the boat and look down, you see trucks with pigs and sheep who look up at you with anticipatory glaces (got food?). One of the English girls wasn’t doing well with the rocking boat, so we all hang out at the back of the boat where it’s the least rocky and we passed the voyage without mishap. We got into Wellington and one of the Sobering beer bottles had broken in my bag during transit; which meant my clothes were now soaked in beer. We get to the hostel in downtown Wellington and I started a couple loads of laundry to get non-beer smelling shirts and pants. We all went out to eat at an Italian place and call it a night. Tomorrow I am really excited about going to the Lord of the Rings display at Te Papa – the national museum of New Zealand.