Picton and Wellington, New Zealand

Whenever there’s longer-term travel, there will always be days sacrificed to simply getting from one place to another. This was one of those days.

The early start from Murchison was to ensure we got to Picton in good time for the ferry. The route along the way was still pretty scenic, eventually passing through wine country and row after row after row of vines in the Marlborough vineyards.

Things get busy after joining the eastern road from Christchurch. It feels strange to say but this felt a bit sad. After a few weeks of the quiet roads around the South Island, it felt like we were now getting away from the scenery and into the built-up areas, which also felt like it started to signal the end of the trip. This wasn’t an entirely justified feeling since we still had over a week left, but with a few nights in cities coming up and the South Island scenery now behind us, it was the home straight of the time away.

The ferry check-in was straightforward. I don’t even recall the last time I was a vehicle passenger on a ferry – my most recent ferry trips were from Hull, Dalian and Busan, all as foot passenger. The company for the Picton-to-Wellington route seems to have a monopoly and can charge what they like, and it feels like it’s a bit high. For a short journey it could be stripped back quite a bit. There’s no need to be serving hot, buttered scones to passengers. There’s no need to provide a magician as entertainment. There’s no need to be showing films. Maybe cut back on this, given it’s such a short trip, and reduce the price a bit? There’s the tight-fisted Scot in me making an appearance…

The ferry trip also showed some of the more selfish side of human nature: bags/jumpers on the better seats to “keep them safe” while people disappear for a while. It’s like the ferry equivalent of towels on sunbeds.

The ferry route is quite slow and scenic leaving Picton and navigating the narrower channels. It’s little tree-lined islands dotted around with bright blue sea on a sunny day. Some of the islands looked to have houses on them despite having no obvious transport links, or even roads, and they looked wonderfully secluded.

A few hours and a cryptic crossword later, we arrive in Wellington. For a one-night city stopover, it’s usually a fairly simple plan for me: check in, wander a bit, food, drink. Wellington was quiet despite it being commuting time, and we parked ourselves in Little Beer Quarter for the evening for the food and excellent choice of drinks.

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There isn’t much else to say about Wellington from this trip. It seemed perfectly pleasant, but both of us having so little interest in a city stopover for any longer than necessary meant we kept it to the bare minimum (plus a visit to Eva Street, for Eva). The following day was another relatively early start, to head north to one of New Zealand’s most scenic spots.

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