The straits between North and South Island are sailed many times per day by ferries carrying numerous campervans as well as routine freight and passengers. Travel critics have described the final hour into Picton as one of the greatest cruises in the world.
As the sun breaks through the clouds, we are at the docks waiting to board our ship - ferry ships never seem to die and our ship “Kaitaki” was previously known as the
“Pride of Cherbourg” and sailed between Portsmouth and Cherbourg for her living before being sent here.
It is amazing how many cars, vans and lorries these ships manage to take and how efficiently they load and unload.
The “other side” is always visible but the route between
Wellington and Picton is not a straight path with quite a bendy route being followed, particularly as one heads in towards Picton.
For last hour of the “cruise” (as they like to sell it)
the ferry weaves its way down the Tory Channel
passing a gently unfolding landscape
which also shows the scars of logging
until the ferry reaches Picton and does an impressive 180 degree rotation in the harbour mouth so
we can drive off the stern and it can sail out bow first.
The scenery you see as you sail down the sound is certainly quite picturesque and very very green. One of the greatest cruises? It is certainly good but there may be better! (we shall keep travelling and searching).
First stop on South Island is the Cloudy Bay Winery where we sample some of their product and buy two bottles (apparently it is also sold in Waitrose)
and then a drive through the gentle countryside to Nelson where we visit South Street because it contains some of the oldest houses in New Zealand, dating from 1863
originally built for local tradesmen and still beautifully maintained.
You cannot judge an island on the basis of one town but Nelson seems to be wider and more spacious than we most places we have experienced in the North Island and it is not a surprise that Nelson is a very popular town with Kiwis.