Thursday, June 08, 2006

Over the Channel to Picton

Last weekend we decided to venture to the much-renowned South Island of New Zealand. Wellington is on the lowest tip of the North Island, thus we were able to catch the ferry departing right out of the city itself. The ride there was smooth, and about 3 hours long. Dave was in heaven, as the scenery was nearly identical to that of the BC Vancouver-Victoria ferry ride. For a duration in the middle, however, there is a point at which the ferry is surrounded by no land at all -- this part being the infamous Cook Strait. While it behaved well on the way there, the way back was rough and had a number of very large swells, and many people were very ill. Luckily neither Dave nor I are prone to seasickness (thank God!) but hearing so many sick little kids helplessly crying and retching was almost as bad. Poor things, but the sad thing about seasickness is that the only real cure is arriving, which isnt anything that anyone can really help with.

In Picton, the day was cloudy, and by that I mean cloudy in a specifically New Zealand fashion; the clouds gather, then descend upon the cities so that everything is stuck in mist. It does not necessarily rain, exactly, but a stroll outside will fast render you drenched. We did some boat rides around the sounds, which were stunning, and learned of some boat-access-only hotels of all price ranges that Dave and I vowed to stay at next time. In addition, a mere 2-hour drive away is New Zealand's most famous sanctuary of wild seals, dolphins, and all types of whales, surrounded by eco-tourism companies offering the opportunities to watch and swim with them. We did not make it that far this time, but to think, this is all so close to Wellington!

We ended the day with dinner at one of the town's few restaurants open past dark, and during our post-meal drinks we were joined by a group of the town's rugby hooligans. It took no time whatsoever for the evening to go from quiet to insane, and we somehow ended up at a bar with very few women there. To be honest, the only aspect of it I remember with total certainty is that "mixing" is gastrointestinally wrong, and I vow to never do it again. (Let us ignore however many other times I have made that same vow...) ;-)

On a similar note of gastrointestinal wrongness, I must tell the story of an astoundingly wretched burger we encountered in our misguided attempt to find onion rings in a small town after dark. Stupidly running astray of the main street, where respectable people eat, we finally found an open greasy spoon where we could get onion rings, and a burger each. All was well, until we got the burgers home and looked at them.

The deceptively normal bun concealed two grey patties, undercooked ham, wilted lettuce, an unidentifiable array of sauces all in aggressively unappetizing colours, and a rubbery egg. Best of all was the melted cheese, which was a putrid, rotting yellow which pulled apart in a way that suggested that it had been a prop in a gory science fiction movie. We dubbed this, "Death Burger".

Death Burger and mixing aside, it was a very fun trip, and we intend to do it again now that we know about all the hidden gems of accomodation hidden in the Malborough Sounds near Picton. Though hopefully next time, the Cook Strait will be calm-ish both ways. ;-)


Amanda and Kendra said...

Hi Karla and Dave, good hearing from you. The hotels that have boat only access sound really neat.. You must love having your weekends free to get out and explore all of NZ's little treasures.. I am in the process of organizing and price comparing for my trip to Barbados this december I firgured with so much travel under your belts maybe you could give me a few tips as to travel companies or sites to look at on the web..any you have dealt with or have herd good things about.. anything would be useful. thanks luv, amanda

Speaka said...

Picton is pretty! I love the sunrays.

Karla said...

Heya Amanda! (and Brian too!) ;-) I used for my trip to Europe, and it was fairly good for comparing prices. I would recommend doing your *research* with, but then picking the airlines and packages you like best and then following up with the companies directly (not Expedia). Also, has a travel agent part, and they always seem to have good customer service and reasonable prices, though I havent tried them. Let me know how the research goes! Love, Karla