After folding our nice and dry clothes, we whipped up our now standard breakfast of oatmeal, complimentary apple from the lobby, and peanut butter. Then it was time to check out and head for the ferry.
Our taxi drive was quick and uneventful except that our driver didn’t help us with the luggage and he cut a nasty fart. He was kind enough to roll down the window after we noticed it though.
We had pre-purchased our ferry tickets so boarding was quick and easy. The 3-1/2 hour trip is billed as one of the most scenic in the world. Even though you are crossing a small gap between two islands in the middle of the ocean, it is a surprisingly smooth ride. Part of that could be due to size of the ship. We traveled on Interislander’s Kaitaki which is like a small cruise ship.
There are two lines that serve this route but Interislander is the one for tourists. The other is supposedly better for freight. On both you can bring your car with you, but it was recommended not to take a rental car because the fees make it more expensive. We found that to be the case and that allowed us to switch from an econobox to a 4WD for the south island.
The Kaitaki is the bigger better Interislander boat to go on and the trip was pleasant. I spent the entire time updating this report for you guys. That should tell you how smooth it was. No seasickness even while staring at a computer and typing away. It was very relaxing and welcome break for both Melanie and me.
We spent most of the time in the 8th floor restaurant at the front bow watching the scenery roll by. The 7th floor also had great views at the front and those passengers got airline-style seats facing forward. I liked where we were because it made it easy to work and eat (we got tasty granola and yogurt) and it was a different sitting position than being in a car or airplane, which our rear ends appreciated.
The last hour-ish of the trip brought us into Marlborough Sounds which is a honeycomb of islands and peninsulas that looks so neat. It was a pretty sail in, but not nearly as spectacular as it appears in pictures because those always seem to be from a helicopter vantage point. Still, it is a nice trip and recommended.
PICTON AND AVIS CAR RENTAL
Picton is the tiny town where you disembark. We didn’t spend much time here. They are well equipped to handle a lot of car rentals for such a small place. We had a Rav4 reserved at Avis, but when we got there, they were sold out and upsized us to a Highlander for free.
The now-standard-to-us twisty little roads got us to Nelson relatively quickly. It was absolutely beautiful weather all day and we strolled into the neat little downtown as fast as we could. Everything here is tourist-centric. It is super clean and feels like a resort. Nice shops pepper the landscape. We were really looking forward to the art and stopped in at the iSite for the brochure to give us a self-guided tour of the local art galleries and workshops. It pains me to say it but, we were disappointed with what we saw. The glass shop was on par with what we had been expecting but I guess my hopes were too high when I read that Nelson is the place where artists of NZ congregate. It was neat to visit the jeweler who crafted The One Ring for LOTR and The Hobbit though.
If we were beach lovers and didn’t already live in Florida, this would be a place to hang out for a few days. There are hikes in the area and lots to do on the water. They have beaches and supposedly the most consistently nice weather in New Zealand. There is also a helicopter ride that is supposed to be phenomenal.
The Trailways Hotel had been our favorite of the trip thus far and the second nicest we stayed at. Perfect location, close to everything. Around the corner from a grocery store. Clean and nice. No bugs. Little mold in tub but heated floors and whirlpool. Wifi is free but internet speeds are painfully slow. Laundry room costs $2 a wash and $2 a dry. Works well, but only one of each machine expect to do a cha cha with other guests. Since this is probably the halfway point of your trip too, you can check out one of the local laundromats if the Trailways is in use. There is one not too far from hotel. We didn’t visit this laundromat so I can’t comment on its quality.
While checking in, a fairly large motorcycle group rumbled in. They looked like they were having a blast. They were all part of the same tour group that provided them some really nice looking BMW touring bikes, a guide to lead them around, and a minivan to carry all their stuff. If I were better on a bike, I would strongly consider something like this. This particular company was Paradise Motorcycle Tours NZ.
For dinner we ate at a nice restaurant that had tables out on the sidewalk in the quaint downtown area. The food was excellent. Afterwards we collected some stuff from the grocery store a block away and across the footbridge from the hotel for breakfast and snacks for the next day. They had a little chocolate mud cake on sale with chocolate bar shavings on the top. We hadn’t had dessert yet. How could we pass that up?
Will my stomach pay for eating almost an entire cake by myself? Tune in for the next update and find out!