New Zealand: Passage to the South Island

17 04 2009

The best way to travel between the North Island and the South Island of New Zealand is by ferry. This three hour sea passage is both convenient and incredibly scenic. Passengers and cars sail out of Wellington Harbor out to sea and enter the South Island through the Marlborough Sounds and majestic Queen Charlotte Sound.  Just thinking of this sea passage makes me sigh.
 

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We booked the Interislander ferry through our hotel a day in advance. Visitors can also take the Bluebridge Ferries, which take a little longer. Both ferry companies sail with large multilevel ships that are full of amenities such as lounges, cafes, bars and observation decks. Some even have children’s play areas and movie theaters. There are 5-6 crossings a day, depending on the season.

We left Wellington on the 10:25 AM ferry.  Click on any of the pictures below for a larger view.


View of Wellington from the Ferry


Passing another ferry going in the opposite direction.

We passed by these lighthouses and land formations as we left Wellington Harbor.

After leaving the harbor, the ship is out at sea for a while. I passed the time reading the NZ gossip mags since there was nothing to photograph for more than an hour. NZ gossip magazines are almost as good as the British Tabloids. I read all about Prince William’s relationship with Kate Middleton.

It was obvious when we reached the Marlborough Sounds because we began to see green and yellow islands and peninsulas rising out of the sea. A dense fog rolled over the Sounds, which only added to the grandeur and mystery of the Marlborough Sounds. It also had the effect of making the colors of the land more intense.

 

Against the backdrop of the high cliffs, the sailboats looked like white birds fluttering across the water.

 

After cruising through the waters of the Marlborough Sounds, the ship made a big turn into Queen Charlotte Sound. Since we would not be able to do the Queen Charlotte tramp, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, we were happy that we were able to catch a glimpse of this beautiful area from the water.

 

 

Finally, we reached our destination, the port city of Picton.

Although Picton is a small town that serves mainly as the south terminal of the ferry, it does this job well. We were able to pick up our rental car without any problems right at the ferry terminal. There are several rental cars companies to choose from, but if you want a choice in what you rent it’s better if you book ahead of time. We drove into town to have lunch before embarking on the beginning of our South Island adventure.

Next: Abel Tasman National Park








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