I finally made it to the South Island! My plan was to head down here last Thursday and go to Kaikoura for a few nights, but due to the earthquake all roads (there aren’t many roads in NZ) going to and from the town are closed (landslides, roads cracked, etc.). Ferries to the South Island were also cancelled.
I stayed on the north island for a few extra days to let the aftershocks settle down. It’s so nice to be traveling for a long time and not have to rush from place to place.
I boarded the ferry this morning from Wellington and arrived in Picton, which is essentially a port town but also the gateway to the Queen Charlotte sound and Marlborough sound. It’s super tiny, but so cute!
The ferry is 3.5 hours long and covers 52 miles, so it’s not too terribly far, they just go slow because it’s scenic.
There are two different companies – I used Interislander because it’s what my bus company uses. They are essentially the same thing just slightly different schedules and features. My ferry was “Kaitaki”, which is the largest ferry in their line and all of NZ – it can hold up to 1,600 people and hundreds of cars!
It’s 7 stories (some are for cars), and features two cafes, a restaurant, a bar, several lounges, a games arcade, movie theatre and kids play-zone. Of course everything is extra – what a way to make money! All for a 3.5 hour ride!!
Thankfully it was a gorgeous day and the strait was relatively calm. You’re only in it for about an hour; it takes about 45 minutes to leave the Wellington harbor and then you spend about another hour meandering through the Queen Charlotte Sound on the South Island.
The strait is pretty narrow, so everywhere you look you can see land. The narrowest part is only about 14 miles.
When I arrived in Picton I went on a short hike – pretty nice backdrop for a town!