Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Logbook: North of South to South of North

Southnorth1We had yet another beautiful drive last Wednesday from Murchison to the north coast town of Motueka. It really is amazing how many different kinds of scenery NZ's south island has in such a small geographical area, and I reprise my assertion that just driving around to enjoy the views is by far the best value. Motueka is a mid-sized town that serves as the tourism center for Abel Tasman Park which Betty took an all-day boat tour of on Thursday. Since I have already been to the Park, I spent the day in town, grappling as usual with the internet and taking care of some chores. Motueka is also the home to a very busy little airport where you can take bi-plane rides, sky dive, hang-glide and fly micro-lites. Betty was keen to give the micro-lite and hang-glider a try, so we made a couple of trips out to the airport during breaks in the weather on Friday for her to give it a go. To say the least, she loved it all! We spent most of Saturday taking a day trip out to Farewell spit -- a lengthy sand spit at the very northwestern corner of the south island -- but were unable to see much due to really foul weather and consoled ourselves with coffee and a cryptic crossword at a nearby cafe.

Southnorth2Sunday was the last day of our month long exploration of the south island as we made our way to the ferry-port town of Picton for an evening of sorting and packing gear in preparation for crossing to the north island of NZ. The three hour ferry crossing yesterday was a pleasant ride from Picton, out Queen Charlotte Sound, across Cook Strait and into Wellington Harbour. The ship was packed with people and an amazing assortment of vehicles -- as you can see in the photo -- ranging from cars to RVs to stock trucks full of sheep. I'm not sure what the economics of transporting live animals to the north island is, but I do know that they were a point of interest for many passengers. Upon arrival in Wellington, Betty and I got a new rental car, found our way to our accommodations and settled down for a brew up after a successful day migrating from the north of the south island to the south of the north island.

Southnorth3We were both "good tourists" today, spending most of the day on a walkabout of Wellington. We toured the downtown area, wandered along the pedestrian malls, took the famous cable car up the hill and strolled along the waterfront. Wellington is a lively, picturesque city that seems to have a pleasant mix of business, government and leisure aspects. There are a few interesting sights, but I would not say it is a spectacular place. Although Wellington is NZ's second largest city, it is still quite small with a population of fewer than 200,000 people. Despite this relatively small size, Betty and I both commented on how loud and bustling the city seemed to us after spending so much time in wide open and sparsely populated areas. We plan to spend the day here tomorrow then head up the east coast on Thursday. Stay tuned!

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