"" Writer's Wanderings: New Zealand Diary - Ferry To The South Island

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New Zealand Diary - Ferry To The South Island

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In his preparation for this trip, Bob has read that we need to be in line with our car for the Interislander Ferry by 7:15 a.m. for the 8:30 departure. When choosing a rental car we went the Kiwi way, with Apex Car Rental since they allow their cars to cross between the main islands and actually purchase your ticket ahead for you. It works out perfectly. As we sit in our car, nice and dry, we wonder what it would be like to have to board as a passenger without a car dragging our luggage behind us in the rain.

An attendant comes by and takes our voucher and when we pass her ticket booth a bit later, she hands us our ticket and voucher for the return trip in two weeks. Five lanes of cars, vans and small trucks converge into one on the direction of the ferry crew. A couple of large semis have already been loaded in the open area of the ferry and we drive past them as we circle around and park on deck five. There are at least three levels of car parking as far as we can tell. We are on the highest.
An attendant with a lovely smile points the way for us to enter the passenger area of the ferry. We climb several steps (an elevator is available as well) and find ourselves on Deck 7 where the captain and some crew members greet us. With the carpet and stairway, I almost imagine we are on a cruise ship.

There are several lounges on the three decks allotted for passengers. Some outside areas are available as well but in this weather (it is still rainy and windy) there won’t be many people outside. We find a lounge on Deck 8 at the front. The tables all near the windows are taken but we find one that still allows us to look out at the view. I can smell breakfast and many of the passengers are going into the little buffet area to get something to eat. We opt for some tea since we’ve already had breakfast. I get out my Surface and catch up on my New Zealand diary so that when we have internet, I’ll be ready with the posts.

Bob opts to explore and reports that there are several lounges that are private for tour groups and one for truck drivers. A couple of bars and another snack place are in the back along with a lounge where kids can watch the Disney Channel and of course the gift shop one level down. Soon we hear the announcement for the first movie to be shown. They are showing Superman and in another venue, Return To Earth. In NZ Dollars, adults are $12.50. We look at each other and shake our heads. We’re not here to watch movies although if you ride the ferry often, and/or don’t want to remember that you are on a boat, the movies would be a good distraction during the almost four hour trip.

The ferry ride is pleasant enough although with the rain that is lingering, there’s not a great view. It is still a bit dreary when we reach the channel of the South Island but the landscape is dramatic and interesting. I take a few pictures and hope for better weather on our return trip.

Some work done on my diary, a good card game of rummy, and we are almost to Picton. The ride has been about three and a half hours and passed pleasantly. We gather our things and explore the ferry a bit more before we hear the announcement that passengers with cars must go to their automobiles. We comply although I think Bob would have liked to watch them dock.
The unloading of cars takes a bit of time since we have to wait for those without cars to exit first. When that is done, it all goes quite quickly and Lady Garmon takes over the navigating again. I’m hungry. We had passed on the tea and scones they were selling from a traveling cart. Bob has planned a stop for lunch in the Green Lipped Mussel Capital of New Zealand, North Havelock.

After about a 45 minute drive, we arrive in North Havelock and find The Mussel Pot right in the center of town. The menu has mussels fixed in more ways than I ever imagined. We both opt for a pot of steamed mussels but Bob gets the creamy garlic and herb sauce and I go for the Thai green curry and coconut sauce. Thankfully mine is not extremely spicy. It is just perfect, the mussels large and tender and the accompanying bread for dipping is fresh and delicious. I could easily be lured back here again. Oh, and by the way, the shells of the mussels actually have a green color around the edge. I'm told they have a green beard too that gets shaved off in the preparation.

The weather is beginning to get a little better the farther we go along the coast of the Tasman Sea. By the time we arrive at the Abel Tasman Ocean View Villas, the sun is breaking through the clouds and giving us hope for a nice evening. Our studio suite is one half of a villa that sits up a hill a bit and looks out over pastureland and some mountains in the distance. We can’t help but think of our pastor’s daughter who loves horses as we watch about a dozen beautiful brown and black horses graze and frolic below us.

This is definitely the smallest town we have stayed in so far. There is one little store that is not even the size of a convenient store back home and doubles as the booking agent for activities in the area. We peruse the shelves and find spaghetti Bolognese in a can, some bread, and some lunch fixings for tomorrow. Microwaves are wonderful inventions. Our spaghetti warmed, we toast some bread, and enjoy our dinner with a view. Coffee and Tim Tams for dessert and we are happy campers. We take a short walk and return to a chilly room. We’d left the window open.
Even with the window closed, it doesn’t warm up much but Bob finds a heater that works more like a large hair dryer. It does the trick and makes the room comfortable. The nice electric blanket keeps us snug through the night and we awake the next morning to bright sunshine. Time for some serious exercise.

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