I can’t say I’d ever heard much about the ferry journey from Wellington to Picton. As far as I was concerned, it was a nice way to get between the two islands and judging by the map of fjords and forks, perhaps there would be a little bit of scenery.
So imagine my surprise when we reached the south island and immediately started cutting through water the colour of jade, between peninsulas of forests and green hills, even spotting dolphins swimming past the nearby fishing boats!
Suffice to say – it was a much better journey than I had ever envisaged.
We were off to Christchurch after a mishap of plans. Originally we had planned to head around the south island in the opposite direction; stop in Nelson for a night and make our way down to Franz Josef and then Queenstown. It turned out that after our bus on Sunday to Franz Josef, we wouldn’t be able to go on to Queenstown until WEDNESDAY. With under two weeks to see the south island, our time was valuable and we just couldn’t afford to spend that long in one place.
It then also emerged, despite the fact we had arranged some couchsurfing in Nelson, that it would be a bank holiday weekend and therefore all buses OUT of Nelson were booked up anyway.
So sadly, we had to skip Nelson altogether (I felt awful cancelling on a host with only a couple of days notice) and book a bus straight from Picton to Christchurch – the opposite direction.
This meant that the journey on land was just as beautiful as the one on sea.
For one thing, most of the drive follows the very edge of the coast, flanked by the mountains you’ve always dreamed of. This also meant that we saw the seals that makes the Kaikoura coast famous.
For miles and miles and miles, seals lined every beach, sat atop every rock, filled every crevice. Let me tell you – I grew up on an island and I’ve seen plenty of seals. My house was virtually next to a beach and I saw seals almost every time I went down there.
But I saw more seals on that journey than I have seen in 27 years put together.
It was incredible! It was the first time (to become of many) that I wished so hard that we were driving in our own car in New Zealand, because the bus didn’t stop once on that stretch of road and I couldn’t get a damn picture.
We did, however, stop in Kaikoura for a while, which was well worth a visit in itself. If just for this view.
We hadn’t even reached the epic proportions of scenery New Zealand’s south island had to offer yet. Needless to say, I had a feeling we were going to love it.