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
|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
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
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
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. TePapa Museum
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.