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Monday, August 20, 2012

Memorable Cook Strait and Wellington


The view from the small hotel window was majestic as the sun broke out in Kaikoura, the Whale town! Lush green carpeted lawns sloped towards the main road on an angular descent. The blue waters of the ocean sparkled with the morning sunrays kissing the tiny waves and reflection of the tall snow clad mountains mirrored from the water.
The lovely town of Picton

After a quick breakfast we packed our belongings and checked out thanking our charming hostess for her hospitality. A short walk down the hill brought us to the bus stop from where we were to board a bus to Picton at 10 AM. For the next three hours we were treated to a visual extravaganza of unspoilt natural beauty of the drive along the Pacific coast with the blue waves of the ocean gently caressing the shores. Thick forests, meadows with sheep and massive cows grazing, and unending chain of mountains greeted us! The farm houses are modern and the road meanders through the hills as the bus reached the harbor town of Picton with a brief stopover at Blenheim just 25 km short of Picton. Blenheim has a number of wineries around the town! At Picton, the bus stopped just outside the Inter Islander ferry terminal where in next 20 minutes the massive ship was awaiting to depart for Wellington!
The Vessel- Kaitaki

The journey on the modern liner is one of the most exciting one along one of the most scenic routes of Cook’s strait which separates the two islands of North and South comprising the nation of New Zealand. The ship, ‘Kaitaki’ had ten decks with two decks reserved for parking trucks and cars and other vehicles which are ferried across the distance of 93 km! It could carry 1600 passengers, 600 cars and several trucks!! On the upper decks one can drench in the sun and view the small islands and mountain ranges with sighting of rare birds and dolphins occasionally jumping out of the water. At one time the place was so infested with whales that mariners found it difficult to sleep due to noise of mating created by the whales at night. Now, the numbers are severely depleted but the strait has the largest number of hump, blue sperm and white whales inhabiting the region!
 We reached Wellington in three hours. Wellington is a bustling town with tall skyscrapers and is the tiniest capital city of the world. A fifteen minute drive by taxi brought us to the hotel which overlooked the Botanical Gardens!. After refreshing ourselves we went for a stroll to the waterfront along the quay in Central Business District (CBD). The whole place has been made accessible by Wifi internet which is free!
Next morning we walked through the Botanical Garden‘s winding walkways which have very rare plants and step gardens of Roses, Bougainvilleas, and other flowers. The aroma of the herbs garden was overpowering. Some children played in the garden, as we continued to climb to finally reach the top. The ships at anchorage and yachts dot the harbor as one looks at the lovely panoramic view. There is an old German gun called ‘The Krupp Gun’ which was brought to New Zealand as a trophy after World War I from Europe. The Carter Observatory, to view the stars even at day time and The Cable Car Museum are located at the top of the Garden! A cable car operates at an interval of every 10 minutes down to Lambton Quay in CBD. We continued our walk through the gardens, Seddon (a war memorial) , the cemetery to arrive at the Parliament building! A further short walk brought us to the waterfront which was teeming with Sunday crowds. It has the best restaurants, tandem cycles, heliport from where the helicopters operate for tourists. The quay has a number of small ferries which take the tourists to the nearby places of interest! The walkway goes all the way to the TePapa Museum which is a must see! It traces the history of human civilization, has audio visual displays and even a ‘Giant Squid’ weighing almost 500 kg on display. The Maori culture, traditional homes, clothes including a demonstration of weaving cloth from the fiber extract from plants was on display. One needs almost half a day to go through this seven storey museum which has many awesome displays.
We started to walk in the direction of the CBD, Lambton Quay and stopped over at The New Zealand Reserve Bank Museum. It was quite a place where the history of currency and safe keeping in vaults was in display. Our next destination was the Cuba Street which is close to the Civic Centre. The place is very lively and is full of shopping arcades and global cuisine restaurants ranging from, Turkish, Indian, Japanese and many more. The people were dressed in the latest fashions in vibrant colors. As we started to retrace are steps back to CBD the dark clouds gathered and the winds grew strong. Soon the temperature plummeted and it started to rain. The school girls were returning home in flocks and were dressed in green checked skirts, smartly. We picked up ice creams .Nothing like enjoying a cone of softy ice cream on a winter day! We returned back to the hotel and packed up our baggage as we were to check out early in the morning.
Woke up early and got ready! I fiddled around on the FM radio to be pleasantly greeted by a Hindi devotional song being played on one channel! This was a pleasant surprise to hear melodies in own language on foreign soil. The ship cast off the harbor about 15 minutes late! As the journey progressed the sea became rough and the upper deck was closed. Huge waves were crashing down the deck as the ship violently rolled and pitched and continued ahead.
Giant waves crashing alongside the ship

 I was reliving my old sea life after almost two decades! Nothing seemed to have changed except that I was now a passenger unlike last time when I was the crew of the ship! After about two hours of turbulent sailing the ship entered the outer limit of Picton and friendly dolphins once again reappeared in a group of about a dozen, jumping out of water in glee, to our merriment.
We waited for about half an hour when our connecting bus to Christchurch appeared at 1 PM for return journey.  The snow of the previous week had still not melted and the streets of Christchurch were still having telltale remains!
On  the return journey back from Christchurch, I came across a very interesting hoarding at the airport which is shared with you all. I am sure it will bring a smile on your face, which says 1. Please sit upright 2. Luggage must be under the chair 3. You may not drape, hang laundry or clothing 4. You may not lie on floor 5. You may not erect a tent 5. You may not inflate or lie on a bedding  etc etc...
A hoarding at Christchurch Airport



PS – This was the last post on the recent trip to New Zealand, a beautiful country which has left lasting memories.

77 comments:

  1. Wow!! Amazing NZ .. Wellington and Christchurch is amazing ... envy you :)

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  2. Rahul sir, quite a descriptive post. This is perfect for anyone visiting Wellington now.

    The journey to Picton - amazing. Sheep and cows remind me of Scotland. Caught that a lot there. And Kaitaki, holding all those trucks! 10 decks Massive!

    A place to stay overlooking the botanical gardens, this only gets better. A lot of places to see in Wellington, but what really intrigued me was carter observatory, 'din mein tare dikha de'. Fascinating.

    You would loads of photos of dolphins and whales now!
    Wonderful trip Rahulji, and this detailed ending was perfect!

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    1. A big thanks Jenny for enjoying the post. I would love to read your details of Scotland as that is still on my travel wish list:)

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  3. I love NZ...it's my fav country .Auckland too.

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    1. Thanks a lot! Hope you had a great Eid:)

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  4. Thanks for all that info Rahul :)

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  5. you are making me more and more restless , I so want to go there now .. indeed a beautiful country


    Bikram's

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    1. Bikram, take a break and pack your bags:)

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  6. Wonderful narration on the trip... making a move along. The place sounds exotic!

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  7. What a beautiful trip! It must have been amazing!
    Xx
    http://www.dontcallmefashionblogger.com/

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  8. Wonderful pictures, Rahul. The town of Picton looks picture postcard beautiful. My mind has already left blogosphere and gone there.

    I am burning with envy ;)

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    1. The whole country is like a picture post card Rachna:) I am happy I could conjure images to take you on the mental flight:)

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  9. Oh, how lovely! I'd like to visit one day. Love your narration too.

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    1. You have seen quite a few places and do include this lovely country too to travel someday!

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  10. BEautiful pictures! :) Loved the post as well...Now, I shall go hunt a suitable "tall-dark-handsome" guy who could take me there for a honeymoon;-)

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    1. Akanksha, I wish all your dreams come true and wish you travel and see many places in the company you desire:)

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  11. Great pictures, great post Rahul. You're really making me want to go visit!!

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  12. NZ would love to visit. Interesting post.

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  13. lovely place...post more images rahulji!

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  14. One day I would like to visit NZ. How did you feel being a passenger and not part of the crew?
    www.thoughtsofpaps.com

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    1. Sure you must! It feels strange now to be a passenger and not a crew on ship! At least one is free of worries:)

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  15. Hi Rahul, wow, you've been to the most amazing and far-reaching places on the globe! The Strait sounds like such an adventure, the natural beauty is described with grand passion! The museum must have been a wealth of knowledge, its always good to visit the local ones, don't they give you a completely different outlook on the place? Cuba street sounds amazing, I never thought there would be something like that there, with the culture clashes and restaurants. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories with us

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    1. Sam, it is a great feeling to share the experience with someone like you who gets just about as involved ! I feel blessed to have seen some lovely places and have nice friends like you who enjoy to read:)

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  16. going through this post was like going through the journey on my own....thanks for sharing this beautiful post Sir.

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    1. A very big thanks Irfan for those kind words. It is indeed a pleasure to share happy moments with nice readers like you:)

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  17. NZ is one of the places that I really like to visit. Hope someday. Beautiful post, Rahul. Thank you for sharing.

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  18. Wonderful description, looks like there is everything one pines for when on a trip - national artifacts, historical treasures, ice creams, shopping, etc, etc. Loved the ship ride, there couldn't have been a more perfect end to a beautiful trip!

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    1. A sincere thanks Arti for having liked it. The new places are literally treasure troves awaiting exploiting:)

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  19. We went to Australia but did not go to New Zealand. Thanks for sharing your exotic experience. Enjoyed this trip on your space :)

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    1. A sincere thanks Ghazala for having liked this post:)

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  20. Thanks for your comment today!

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  21. Great post and it must have been a wonderful journey. I`v never been there, but wish.. it is so far away:-)

    Wish you a happy week!

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  22. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh awesome is all I can say superbbbbbb
    Its like dream so serene and beautiful :D Jealous of you Rahul sir!

    Keep travelling keep writing Rahul sir!!!

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  23. Thanks a lot Ramya, and it was nice that you enjoyed reading about the places! Hope you get to see many new places:)

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  24. I always thought cow grazing is a sight of Europe. And which channel played hindi songs there?

    Yet another lovely narration of a beautiful place. :) Thanks for sharing this :)

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    1. Cow grazing is a pleasure to watch in any part of the world Saru:) Be it, in NZ , Australia, Switzerland or even India!I forgot the name of the channel but it was nice to hear devotional songs early morning in Wellington:)
      Thanks once again for liking this post!

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  25. Once more, you did NZ proud. Wellington's waterfront is definitely a crowd puller and I remember those tandem bikes with two seats and two sets of pedals - most enjoyable. Wellington seems to have more of a cafe culture than Auckland with people meeting for a quick coffee and if the weather is good, vying for seats outside. The cafe at the Rose Garden (in the Botanical Gardens) is great for that. Will stop before this becomes a full post!

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    1. Thanks indeed KayEM for those kind words! NZ is such a lovely place that I find it difficult to do justice to recreate the place in writing as I saw!The Rose Garden was a favorite haunt as I stayed in the hotel bang opposite the Botanical Garden:) Lovely memories!!

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  26. I've read so much about this country as a setting in books. Hmm. Did I feel a faint twinge of envy? I am putting it on my wishlist, Rahul. The picture you paint with words is very very tempting to see first-hand!

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  27. Ha, ha, Vidya!!Nice comment:)Thanks a lot and hope your dream of travel to NZ comes true!

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  28. Loved the journey of NZ with you Rahul!

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    1. Thanks Rachna! The pleasure was mine to share some nice moments:)

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  29. NZ has always been in my list of things to be done.
    Loved travelling with you.

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    1. Thanks a lot Rama and it is a pleasure to share the stories of travel with readers like you!

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  30. Thanks a lot for sharing this beauty with us!!!! Loved it !

    Alessia

    THE CHILI COOL


    FACEBOOK

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  31. Hi Rahul, thanks for your kind visit

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  32. Beautiful recollections from your trip;)) Yous should write traveling books.;) Have a great weekend,
    xoxo

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  33. Thanks a lot Zuzana for those kind and encouraging remarks:)

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  34. Wishing you well this weekend!

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    1. Have a lovely weekend and nice week ahead, Sam:)

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  35. that's a lot of information!! loved reading this post :)

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    1. Thanks a lot Debajyoti for that nice comment!

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  36. Wonderful description of NZL. It's definitely on my places to visit list along with Australia... And when I do visit it, this post will surely be read again :) Enjoyed this post sir..

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    1. Thanks Binu! Am sure you would love the place!

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  37. Wow I was always a great fan of your writing .. And I am visiting ur blog after 5 months .. You still rock! I love the pictures.. I know new zealand is a beautiful place but you made it to want to see it more :D

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    1. Oh what a pleasant surprise Single Girl, to see you back! Hope everything was fine and look forward to see you here more often:) BTW I was foxed to see a different name :) :)

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  38. very nicely narrated seems like a very beautiful place have heard about it but dint get a chance to see yet!

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    1. Thanks a lot Harman and when you next get an opportunity you must visit the place!

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  39. I am definitely going to the places you have written about and all the information I would want is already here . Thanks for the detailed account Sir :-)

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  40. I wish you see even more than what I have seen, Ashwini:)

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  41. thanks for sharing..

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  42. Oh, so u hve been crew to ship earlier! I wonder how it is to be surrounded for days with water. Must be sickening initially.

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    1. Thanks a lot Jerly:) Yes I was in the Navy before so have sailed around a bit!Prolonged sailing could be a bit demanding:)BTW your new profile pic is nice!

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