We had to get up early this morning (6:30am) to catch the ferry to the South Island. We had a nice breakfast with the other guests who were staying at the house. This was the first time we had shared a house with other guests.
We drove to the ferry building, where we had to drop off our little Nissan Sentra, and then boarded the ferry as passengers. The crossing cost us $30NZ each. While we were still in port, I started talking to the steward (is that the right title?) about this ferry. It’s the small one of four ferries. Small is kind of a misnomer, since this boat was about 120 meters long, and had 6 different decks. The bottom deck held train cars, four wide (480 meters of train), two car decks, and three passenger decks. The deck we sat on (the middle one) must have been at least 15 meters above the water. And to think that this was the small boat! They even had a movie theater for passengers on board, where they were playing Sleepless in Seattle!
South Island, New Zealand
We spent three hours working our way southwest to Picton, in medium to small seas, still facing a few squalls. Along the way, we met a couple from Germany, named Manfred and Linda Barth. Linda grew up in Winter Park, Colorado (just over the hill from where I live now), and her parents still own two hotels there. Manfred works for Luftansa, so the got to come on this trip for very little money, but they have to fly everywhere on standby. It was really fun talking with them, and the three hour crossing passed quickly.
As we entered the bay north of Picton, fingers of this bay seemed to go on forever. It only took us about 1 1/4 hours in the strait, and almost 2 hours in the long, interwoven sound (is this the right word?)
We disembarked in Picton, and picked up our new car. We loaded it up, and sat in the parking lot for an hour, trying to figure out what we wanted to do, and where we wanted to go to begin our South Island tour. We finally ended up driving about 30Km south to Blenheim, where we checked into our next homestay.
The scenery all around us has changed considerably. There are now low, rolling hills covered with dry grasses, much like the foothills of the coast ranges in California in early fall. I was a little surprised by this shift, but then I never did understand Mother Nature.
Our hosts in Blenheim, Rex and Adrienne Handley, were pretty amusing. All the people we’ve stayed with so far have had an interesting/unique sense of humor and an even more interesting/unique outlook on life. It’s definitely made the homestays fun. Rex is an ex-pilot and current tinkerer.
He has his own glider, rebuild Model-T, miniature working steam engine, and much more. Adrienne just liked to talk, and was very good at getting us to talk about all kinds of things. We had dinner that night at the Top of the Town where our food was Spot on. The only problem with dinner that night was a disappearing napkin, but you’ll have to ask Bill about that one. I promised I wouldn’t tell.