Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Picton to Parnassus

After a rather noisy night parked at the Evans Bay carpark, we were up bright and early and ready to roll, well ahead of schedule. It was a quick and painless trip through the early morning rush-hour traffic to the downtown ferry terminal where we lined up to wait for boarding to commence. We’re travelling with Bluebridge once again, while both shipping companies give good discounts if you’re a member of NZMCA, we save a quite a bit more with Bluebridge.

Once the trucks have been loaded, we’re next in the queue; we seem to always lead everyone else up the ramp, it must be to do with our 14.5 metre length. No problem there, first on means first off too!

It was a cold, grey day in Wellington but luckily for me there wasn’t too much wind. My fingers were crossed for a smooth sailing.

The drizzle started as we pulled away from the wharf. I was hoping for a bright day to take this photo of the cool terraced houses on the hill above Oriental Bay. I have seen many prints on walls of this scene. Perhaps next time I’ll get a bit more colour.

It was too cold out on the deck so I moved indoors, found David and we retired to the movie theatre to watch a movie. We’ve only been to the pictures twice since leaving for our life on the road and both those times have been on the Cook Strait ferry! How sad is that? After Paddington Bear last time, today’s movie was “Far from the Madding Crowd”, a chick flick that I didn’t think was that great but at least it took my mind off the choppy sea outside. The movie finished just as we entered the Sounds, out on deck I could hardly see from one side to the other through the mist and cloud. Picton was ahead of us somewhere.

It was still cold and wet when we drove off the ferry heading for Blenheim but by the time we were out the other side of the city the sun was shining and the roads dry. And it’s not only the roads that were dry, the hills were too, although with just a hint of green. Marlborough and North Canterbury are still fighting severe drought conditions and it doesn’t look too good for the summer with our friend El nino expected. This is in stark contrast to the lush green Hawkes Bay farmland we drove through just yesterday.

We pass the salt ponds at Lake Grassmere, with just a touch of pink showing. I’ve no need to stop to take photos of the ponds this time, I had much better colour, November two years ago.

And no need to visit the seal pups at Ohau waterfall either (top photo below), I’ve been there 3 times on our trips past. I wonder if eventually I’ll be saying that for the whole of the South Island. “no need to stop there David, no photos needed here darling, yes I have that church…”. I guess that’ll be the time to leave the south.

We’ve already noticed that there are many more motorhomes on the road since we left the south 2 months ago. Just about every 2nd vehicle was a motorhome of some sort; either a rental or with NZMCA member’s ‘wings’ on them. It’s going to be a busy summer me thinks.

We did stop so I could see if the shag colony near the waterfall still had chicks but they had all flown the nest and there were only bundles of twigs and empty egg shells littering the ledge.

This is a sign you’ll not see often. Luckily for us (and them), the seals were taking a day off from sunning themselves on the tarmac.

Not too far south of Kaikoura there are two separate very narrow road tunnels that scare the bejesus out of both of us; they are so narrow with fast approaches and sharp exits (depending on the direction you’re heading). I suck in my breath (and tummy) whenever I glance in the side mirror to see how close we are to the wall. It’s a close shave I’m sure, in fact I know it is, going by the scrape marks along the tunnel wall.

We were stopped behind this guy at some roadworks. Who knew there were motorised wheelbarrows out there? Not me. Is that cheating or what? Perfect for a wheelbarrow race though, as long as you could hide the workings.

And here we are parked up at the NZMCA Park at Parnassus in North Canterbury. We’re making good time, it’s hard to believe we were in Napier just over 24 hours ago.

And just in case you’re getting ideas; I won’t be doing a daily blog post, just keeping up to date for now.

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