I’m going to fast-forward a couple of days from the 17th to the 19th:
December 17th Evening
We stayed at Snowy Waters Lodge in Raetihi, NZ. I was so famished by the time we got there and dinner was prepared… since it was after the Tongariro Alpine Crossing day hike. Read my last post for more about this hike.
After dinner, I put my feet into a hot-water spa which felt pretty good. After that it was shower and off to bed. I laid down my head and was sound asleep in 5 minutes or less.
Travel day to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. We got there later than originally planned and I was sort of in a bad mood because of it. I had things I had planned to do and was now behind schedule. In short, nothing I had thought I would do happened. I had lunch with my French friend Romain who was in Wellington by then. That was really nice.
After my late lunch, I decided I had better try to catch up on my blog so I spent from about 5pm – 9pm or around there trying to get a couple posts prepared and posted.
Our bus driver offered to drive us to the Blue Bridge Ferry but we had to be ready and on the bus at 6:45am. I was up by 5 in order to get all packed and ready at a normal pace.
I was ready to go and waiting by the door by 6:30am. I had everything together including my bag of groceries next to me. I followed the driver outside to get on the bus but he just drove away to pick up some other people from a different hostel and then would come back to where I and others were staying to pick us up. So I went back into the hostel, sat down and put down my bag of groceries; it must have been set down next to the chair where I couldn’t easily see the bag. So, when I saw the bus come back, I quickly stood up (still wearing my two main backpacks, and walked out the door to catch the bus. 😉 It wasn’t until we were more than half-way to the ferry that I was missing my grocery bag. I think the only thing that was in there that I miss is my charge cord for my iPhone-turned iPod now that I have a different phone. Everything else was thankfully non-critical including my new Kathmandu cup and spork, my reusable grocery bag itself, and perhaps some granola bars that were in there. But it actually felt good to have my hands free. I’d been carrying my two packs and at least one bag of groceries for a while and it was a nice change to not have anything in my hands.
This ferry was huge! The largest ferry I’ve been on up to this point was the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry in Long Island, but that ferry would be dwarfed by the ferries that cross the Cook Strait between the north and south islands of New Zealand. The ferry crossing was supposed to take 3.5 hours. It probably took an hour and change or so to get out of the Wellington Harbor area. Then, we got out into the open strait. Now, if you know me pretty well, you know that I love being front and center (most of the time). Well, initially I found that we could only get outside onto the upper-most deck in the back-end of the ferry which was slightly disappointing. I hung out there from when we got on the ferry until we were moving.
I then went inside to explore the ferry and while being inside near the front of the ferry, I saw people on one of the lower decks but outside in the front! I thought “How did they get there!! That is where I want to be!” So, I went outside and found my way to that deck in the front of the boat and I stayed there for about 98% of the rest of the ferry ride. Once we got out into the open ocean part of Cook Strait, it was so incredibly windy that I had to put the hood of my jacket up over my Wild Kiwi baseball cap in addition to holding both with both hands. And I had that whole area of the front deck to myself because it was so windy. There was the occasional straggler that ventured out to take a picture or two but ultimately they went back to wherever they came from moments later. 😀
Just a video of from the ferry ride. I don’t think this is out in the open strait though.
I did my first Facebook Live video on this ferry ride because the boat had pretty good Wi-Fi! It was a pretty long video and because it was live, I am not sure how to save it onto my device and provide it in this blog…. So here is the link to the video if you want to check it out. You can barely hear me talking but the wind is so loud that you can’t understand anything that I say. But it’s here if you want to see it: (https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155183723488059&id=748063058).
I did get a bit chilled from that trip because I wasn’t really moving and it was pretty chilly in addition to being windy. I loved it out there though. I feel so alive and enthused when I’m outside experiencing something new and exciting with perhaps a small hint of danger. 😀 Hahaha… I did check my backpack once to make sure that all my zippers were as closed as possible and that everything was firmly attached and where it should be. Thankfully, nothing of mine became debris in the strait. Everything was well secured.
We arrived at the ferry port in Picton and prepared to hop off. There were two long-distance cyclists preparing their bikes to hop off the ferry as well. Every time I see or meet a long-distance cyclist, it makes me want to go buy the gear, and just start cycling around the islands instead of flying by the landscape in a bus. But then we go up a large hill and I see a long-distance cyclist peddling like crazy and I think “Thank goodness I’m in a bus.” Pros and cons to everything!!
We hopped on the bus with the driver and headed out through the countryside that was full of agricultural uses. Especially wine. Lots of grape vines growing as well as cherries. I noticed quite a few farm stand signs for fresh and/or U-pick cherries.
We stopped at a road-side market thing for a $5NZD wine-tasting. I ended up getting lunch there as I was super hungry. I got falafel with hummus, olives, grilled cauliflower and tomato, the best goat cheese I’ve ever had (I usually can’t stand goat cheese as I feel like I went and licked a goat from the after-taste). The brand I think was called “Grumpy Goat” cheese. :p
We got into Abel Tasman National Park in the late afternoon and checked into our accommodation. I had checked the box to stay in a tent dorm. I was expecting just a big boring tent with lots of beds in it. But the tents were super cool with LED lights strung around the inside and only 5 single beds around the edges! I loved it! I pulled out my sleeping bag so that I could say I was camping although it was definitely luxury camping and by no means was I “roughing it.” It’s what I would call “roughing it very smoothly.” 😀
I had to do laundry when I got there and so I didn’t really have the most exciting evening but that’s fine with me. Clean laundry is worth it.