Take a mini-cruise as you travel between New Zealand’s North Island of Wellington and South Island of Picton
Wellington (North Island) and Picton (South Island), New Zealand
Even though arrangements had been made, and confirmed, and the packing done, we were still a little anxious about returning our rental car, catching the Interislander ferry as foot passengers and picking up another car on the South Island. Up early, we joined Wellington commuters in their rush hour.
Returning the car turned out to a simple affair and the Ezi Car fellow drove us down to the ferry terminal. We checked our bags just as we do at airports.
Standing at the railing feels more like a cruise than a mere means of transportation between islands. The Cook Strait ferry crossing is 92 kilometers (58 miles) and takes about three and a half hours.
Going north to south the journey begins in Wellington Harbor, out through Chaffer’s Passage and into Cook Strait. During this part of the crossing you may spot dolphins, seals, penguins, albatross and, on occasion, whales. Standing at the railing feels more like you’re on a mini adventure cruise rather than merely being transported between islands.
As you approach Troy Channel, which marks the entrance to Marlborough Sounds, grab your camera and head out onto the deck. It only seems like there’s nowhere to go until the Captain makes a skilled turn through the narrow opening. If crossing the strait was at all rough here, within the protection of surrounding hills waters are calm. There are more turns and more camera-clicking views as the Interislander weaves through this iconic New Zealand scenery. Marlborough Sounds is a series of sunken bygone river valleys filled by Pacific Ocean waters. Soon enough, picturesque Picton Harbor comes into view.
As we disembarked at Picton we saw an employee from Ezi Car holding up a sign with our names on it. Once we identified ourselves Terry was whisked away to pick up the car while I waited for our luggage to make its appearance on the carousel. Just as I spotted the last piece Terry came through the door and retrieved it.
[GOOD NEWS update: Rental cars now go between islands, see Interislander Ferry and Ezi Car info and link below.]
With luggage stowed in the car’s trunk we were off to Nelson. Well, that was our intent. At some point, shortly after leaving the ferry terminal, we made a wrong turn and ended up near the east coast in Blenheim. Realizing our error we turned inland to Renwick and then north to our planned destination. By the time we arrived at the Nelson Information Center we discovered most accommodations in the town full but they managed to find a motel that would do for the night.
Needing to purchase ingredients for our picnic supper, and restock the chilly bin, we went shopping for the necessary items. Greek salad travels well, so much so, we always make enough to have another meal of ‘left overs’.
With tummies full and minds relaxed and happy, we waded through the waves of the incoming tide against a backdrop of the changing colors and lengthening shadows of a setting sun.
If weather or children should pull you away from the gorgeous scenery slipping by the Interislander offers a variety of on-board facilities to ensure a memorable, safe and enjoyable journey: cinema, shops, a wide range of food and beverage options and on-board entertainment for all ages. All aboard!
Their website has easy to read useful information for both the experienced and inexperienced traveller.
Web site: www.greatjourneysofnz.co.nz/interislander
GETTING AROUND NEW ZEALAND
EZI CAR RENTALS
Travelling both North and South Islands? New Zealand’s Ezi Car Rentals has made it Ezi-er for you. Now you can take your rental car on the ferry which means no need to unpack your vehicle, wrestle with bags, boxes and kids plus take up precious time at the other collecting a new vehicle. All you do now is drive on, enjoy the voyage, drive off and continue your discovery of New Zealand. That’s Ezi.
Web site: www.ezicarrental.co.nz