Monday, November 13, 2017

November 12, 2017 - Ferry crossing to south island

We stayed in an AirBnB last night in Wellington, on the north island.  We woke up early and left so we could make it to the ferry terminal in time to turn in our rental car, check our bags, and make the sailing.  The crossing was quite smooth.  We have heard from many people that this can be a really rough boat ride, and a lot of people end up sea sick during the 3.5 hour trip.  Not on our crossing thanks to smooth seas.

The rental car companies don't want their cars moving to the other island, so they all have you drop your car at the ferry terminal, board as a walk-on passenger, and then pick up a new car once on the other island.  It works well, except the Budget rental car agency at the South island ferry terminal had only one employee working the shift.  The first person in line had some sort of problem with their rental and it took them 45 minutes to complete their simple transaction.  I was 4th in line.  Fortunately, the next two people went quickly.  Then, it was my turn.  She pulled up my name on the computer, but then found out a car had not been assigned to me.  She wasn't sure they had one for me.  Yikes, this could be bad.  Fortunately, there were a few sets of keys that had just been dropped off from cars that were just returned, and she was able to assign one of those cars to me within a few minutes.  It took me about 10 minutes to get my car rental done.  Total time at the rental car office was 1 hour, though.  It only took 5 minutes to rent a car a week ago in Whangarei.  During this long rental car mess, Cindy had gone to baggage claim and retrieved our two bags and was just sitting there with them the whole time while I was over at the Budget Car Rental office.  Once I found her, we were on our way.

We spent a couple of hours in Picton, which is the town where the ferry terminal is.  It's a nice little beach town with a fairly large commercial dock.

The ferry we were on.  It was a big boat with 7 or 8 decks.

The harbor at Picton, on the south island of New Zealand.

After we had a late lunch in Picton we headed west to Motueka to another AirBnb.  This put is close to the Abel Tasman national park, which we were told was well worth the drive.  At the AirBnB the hosts told us how it used to be when they moved there in the early 80's.  There were no tour boats, no people, and no paved roads.  It was truly undisturbed.  Now it's got paved roads filled with tour buses, there are dozens of tour boats, and there is a constant stream of cars driving there.  But, it's still fabulous.  They recommended that we take a boat tour and told us the company to use.  We got up the next morning and had breakfast with them, and then headed to the tour boat company office, just a few blocks away.  Fortunately there were a couple of seats left on one of the early boats, so we bought two.  We would have about a 30 minute boat ride to a beach where they would let us off and come back for us 2.5 hours later, then another 30 minutes by boat back to where we started.  We spent the 2.5 hours hiking out to a river with a big pool, called Cleopatra's Pool.  It was a nice hike though the forest.  At the pool a group of young German tourists were swimming in the freezing mountain stream.  Cleopatra's Pool was a beautiful spot, and well worth the hike. 

This shipwreck was about two blocks away from where we stayed in Motueka.
It has been here since the late 60's and has become a local landmark.

The tour boat lets us off at "Anchorage" beach.  There were 6 or 7 of us that
got off here.  We all headed separate directions.

Cindy found a tunnel through a boulder on the beach.

It was a beautiful hike through the woods, along this stream.

The water in this stream was very clear, and cold.

Sitting at "Cleopatra's Pool" watching the young Germans swimming.
The water was FREEZING!
Down in the tidal zone.  This is where the stream flows into the ocean.
In about 6 hours the tide will come in and it will be over Cindy's head,
when she is standing upright.

The boat returns to pick us up.  Glad we didn't miss it.

Check out this folding ramp.  It's all hydraulic.  Pretty cool....
Motoring back to our pick-up spot.  There were several small boats out fishing.
Looking for seals on the rocks of an island we stopped at
during our trip back.  Only saw one, and it was swimming.

We got back in our rental car, which is another Toyota Corolla, and drove 3.5 hours to Westport on the west coast.  We arrived in Westport at about 5:30PM on Sunday and found all but one restaurant was closed for the night.  We checked into our hotel and found we had a small kitchen unit.  So, instead of eating out, we went to the grocery store are got some food to bring back to the room.  While we were out, we drove around Westport and decided there was not much to do there tomorrow. We made some dinner in our room and then watched a bit of TV before going to bed.   

The have some crazy roads here.  There are quite a few
one-way sections.  This section has a cliff overhanging it.

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