Last we wrote, Andy and I were in Picton looking forward to getting back to the boat, but still had several days of scenery, lookouts and shared toilets to contend with. While in Picton, Andy went to the Edwin Fox maritime museum to see the 9th oldest “surviving” ship, while I went to a local cafe. He also saw a stingray in the shallow waters of the Picton marina. We made it to one winery in the Marlborough area and then we were waving goodbye to Picton from the Interislander ferry.
Highlights of the past few days were the 3 hr ferry ride from Picton to Wellington, learning to dance ceroc with Andy’s friend, John and Andy winning a goat betting competition in Taupo.
In our previous post we mentioned staying at Tombstone backpackers in Picton. This was the absolute best budget accomodation and the room was super quiet and clean with a little balcony and the owners made fresh scones every morning which were FANTASTIC! The location was great as it was on a small hill and you could see down to the ferry wharf and I especially enjoyed a soak in the hostel’s hot tub with all the Germans.
On March 22, after filling our bellies with fresh scones, we departed the S. Island aboard the Interislander ferry and enjoyed the 3 hr ride to Wellington harbour.
Bound for the N. Island, a seal waved goodbye in the middle of Marlborough Sounds and when we were nearing Wellington, yet still in Cook Strait, a few pods of dolphins bounced alongside the ferry. (Not my photos)
Once in Wellington, we met up with John, a fellow sailor Andy met in the Caribbean more than 6 years ago who was kind enough to take us on a drive around the winding foreshore of Wellington harbour. We stayed for 2 nights in a well located share house and Lexi, our airbnb host was super friendly and accomodating. We really enjoyed our quick stop in Wellington and even learned a few dance moves when John encouraged us to join him at a ceroc dance class after eating a pile of Mexican food. Andy was well into it and I was having a pretty good time until all the spinning caught up with me. I also packed in a few pole classes while we were in Wellington and realized just how unfit I became in 3 months. Here are the 3 photos we took in Wellington: Bar/restaurant precinct of Cuba St., Andy at the Wellington Museum and me on a playground.
After our dance class on night two in Wellington, John took us to the top of Mt. Vic lookout which provided 360 degree views of Wellington and it was a clear night which doesn’t happen to often in this typically windy city. We lucked out and had great weather though.
After leaving Wellington, we had several hours to drive up to Taupo. Lake Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and was formed in a volcanic caldera. (When a volcano essentially collapses in on itself). We learned on our replica steamboat tour that the lake is the size of Singapore or the greater London metropolis.
Aboard the Ernest Kemp we went to see some Maori carvings. These were not ancient although they don’t mention that until you’re on the tour. Carved with modern scaffolding and completed in 1980, they were still very impressive.
We stayed 2 nights at the less than impressive Rainbow Lodge backpackers and realized how important ear plugs are when the room is sharing a wall with the ladies’ toilets and questionably comprised of cardboard. It made us realize how little patience we have when young, drunk backpackers are intermittently crying, cursing and stomping past our room at 3am. Cheap accomodation does have it’s “price”.
While in Taupo, we went to Huka Falls and the surprisingly free hot pools in the thermal park. Then we stuffed our faces with Pauly’s fried chicken and loaded fries (a must do in Taupo).
On our way from Taupo to Auckland we stopped at the most incredible geyser ever: Lady Knox Geyser. So incredible, it actually predictably “erupts” at 10:15. In reality, we were underwhelmed with the process of adding soap into a cone in the earth to break the surface tension between the 70c and the 150c water…wherein it erupts…at 10:15. Thanks soap guy for this amazing marvel, we’re sure the 500 odd tourists got their money’s worth. Also there were some pretty astounding mud pools near to this man-helped “geyser”.
After tearing ourselves away from the geyser park, we continued on our journey and stopped off past Rotorua along trout pool rd. to see some rafts go over the 7 meter (21+ feet) highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world (Kaituna falls). There may’ve been a few swimmers that bounced out and needed a rescue by the kayak
After our stop off to explore Okere/Kaituna falls, we continued our drive to Auckland and stayed in a cheap, but flood damaged airbnb room in Auckland suburbia. We tried to ignore the damp smell and Jesus watching over us and left early to meet up with Andy’s dad, Colin and Sandra, his stepmom. We are now back in the Bay of Islands and look forward to being reunited with Wanderlust later today.