Day 14 - Tue 17 Apr 07 - New Zealand
Up for breakfast at 07:30 and checked out at just past 08:00, and managed to hitch a lift into town with another guest, Mark - a salesman for the local paper in Christchurch. So there and back to the hotel for no charge! It's now 08:45 and I've got just over an hour to kill before the train arrives. Looks like it's shaping up to be a good day.
Well, the train arrived on time and I got a boarding pass of the guard on the platform, everyone else then had to troop off to the end of the train to deposit their luggage, where as I just jumped aboard!
We're hacking up the coast now, hugging the shore line, I guess it's the path of least resistance, further inland the mountains start. A lot of the people how got off the train with me yesterday are now back aboard. Kikora is obviously a popular stopping off point. The train has headed inland now, and we're surrounded by rolling hills and cattle stations.
An unexpected sight was a series of salt pans making salt on an industrial scale. A more alien landscape I could not image - some of the pools were a deep, deep red.
So, off the train in super quick time, across the car park to the ferry terminal. There was no queue at the checkin desk, so I asked if I could jump on the waiting ferry (13:15). "Sure, no problem". So I should be in Wellington by about 16:00. I've just noticed that there's a bit of dirt on the sensor in my digital camera, and it's appearing on all the photos. I might have to look into getting a new one..
Dumped my bag in a locker on board and took a wander around. The boat is an old English Channel Ro-Ro "Pride of Cherbourg". Got something to eat and drink, and found a quiet place to write up my diary, and work out how to get to my hotel in Wellington.
Picton is a good bit inland down a narrow fjord, at the moment the boat is in sheltered waters but I think it might be a bit rough when we hit open water. It's just like being on the Norwegian Costal steamer.
Met up with a fellow Brit, got a cup of tea, and had a good chat. It appears that she used to live in Wellington, so as we arrived on the boat she pointed out some of the sights of Wellington. After the boat had docked, we shared a taxi downtown. She has so much stuff with her. We even photograph her five bags on a bench with my small bag in front of them.
I head off to find my hotel which is just around the corner. I checkin, but there's no chance of an upgrade, so I'll have to live with a shared bathroom. However when I find my room I'm pleasantly surprised, it's small but cosy and shared bathrooms are all marble with separate shower cubicles - all very flash!
I head out into the city to take some photos and get down to the waterfront just as the sun is setting. After that I walked up to the 'Beehive' the local name for the Parliament building. On the way back to the hotel I walk past the tram, and on impulse (as some on on the train said it wasn't running) head up to the ticket desk. I'm glad I did as it is running, and take the next car up the hill to get some great photos of night time over Wellington. All in all an excellent day.