It’s been a long, long today and I’m just about ready for bed even though it’s only 6pm. I have to stay awake until at least 8pm though as the hostel we’re staying in for the next few days offers free hot chocolate pudding and ice cream and we certainly can’t miss that!
I think I was woken up at 5:30am this morning by a man deciding that it was an ideal to have no less than 3 showers. Perhaps not the best time and certainly not the time to make so much noise. As you can imagine, it didn’t go down too well and I ended up resorting to reading my Kindle instead just to pass the time until we needed to get up and ready to catch the shuttle bus. With us only making it to bed at midnight last night, again due to people having showers and the internet going down when I was trying to message my sister, I had been hoping to have the full 6 and a half hours sleep. Ah well. I was quite glad that we needed to be up at 6:45 anyway otherwise it could have been even worse! Time seemed to creep by at a snails pace so when the alarm finally went off, I was more than happy to get up and go. We packed the rest of our things up, grabbed the food from the kitchen, checked out and headed over to the railway station all in about 10 minutes. Can you tell we were keen to get going?!
It wasn’t long until the shuttle bus arrived and we all piled on, anxious to find somewhere for our bags and a seat to sit down in. With the lack of luggage space, we ended up just keeping our bags with us and found ourselves crammed right at the back of a sea of people. Well, it really was rather busy. With as many people squeezed on as was possible, the doors closed and we set off on our adventure to the South Island.
After such a rude awakening, I wasn’t quite prepared for this chaos so early in the morning but to be fair, I couldn’t complain, we were off somewhere new and it was very exciting. As the bus pulled up at the ferry terminal 5 minutes later, everybody scrambled to get off the bus as quickly as they could so they didn’t end up and the back of the rapidly growing queue. We joined in, naturally, though to be honest there wasn’t too much of a rush as once we’d checked in our bags and walked up gangplank 3 on to the ferry, we still had an hour to wait until we left. I suppose it meant that we had the chance to get some seats together which was good as I’ve just read some recent reviews on trips advisor saying that loads of passengers were forced to stand up. That wouldn’t have been much fun at all! We sat a few rows back at the front of the ship and immediately tucked into a packet of very tasty ginger nut biscuits and cheesy crips; well, there was no point waiting was there! It might only have been 8am but we’d been up for a while and it was our breakfast. Yum. The Interislander ferry markets itself as “New Zealand’s most remembered hourneys” and whilst the crossing went fairly smoothly, I wouldn’t say it was incredible. Yes, the views were stunning but we found ourselves surrounded by a very noisy group of people coughing and pulling the seats back. I had been trying to sleep at the time but had only managed half an hour due to this so I way fairly annoyed. I was even more so when I caught two of them sighing at me for taking a photograph through the front window. I’m not sure what it was that annoyed them so much, they weren’t even making the most of the view, but I decided to just ignore them and carry on with what I was doing. Well, I certainly was not going to let them ruin what I enjoy doing was I?
3 and a half hours after we left Wellington, we arrived in Picton. It hadn’t been the ferry trip I’d expected with considerably less wildlife than I’d have liked, but it wasn’t the worst and I was glad to be nearing the South Island. Whilst waiting to dock, we watched millions of tiny blue jellyfish bobbing around in the water and being battered by the waves from the ferry. So many people thing creatures like that are pointless but I really do think they are fascinating. Perhaps I would think that if I was trapped in the water with them but safely from a distance, I enjoyed seeing them and I was quite sad when it was time for us to get off. Having said that, I was quite pleased that we were able to leave the screaming children behind as I was just too shattered to deal with that! After joining quite a large queue, we made it into the terminal and went to baggage reclaim to collect our things. It’s always quite nerve wracking when you’re waiting for your bag to appear and I found myself quite apprehensive as I waited to see a flash of red as it burst through the doors. Codie, in the meantime, had spotted the Naked Bus and had gone to check in and get us some seats before the inevitable rush. It might only have been 2 hours long but it’s never fun sitting on your own listening to people munching raw carrots or snoring. Obviously I’m coming across as a right grump here but I’m sure you all know what I mean!
In what can only be described as a miracle, our bags were some of the first to appear on the carousel and after dragging them off, we went and put them on the bus. We’d been a lot quicker than we thought we would and so had an hour to wait. I wasn’t bothered though, I was just pleased to have a comfy seat for our trip to Nelson. The 2 hour journey passed fairly quickly and with the beautiful mountain views out of the window, I really enjoyed it. In terms of the scenery, my first impression of the South Island was that it was stunning and a lot more interesting that it’s northern counterpart. That’s not to say that the North Island was boring, of course I don’t mean that, I’m just a big fan of mountains and the south has them in bucket loads. Perfect. When we arrived in Nelson, we leapt off the bus, worked out which direction we needed to head off in to get to the hostel and quickly set off. A couple of times in the past, other people have made it there first and have subsequently taken the best beds and we determined not to let that happen again! I know it sounds a bit petty but when people are coming in and out of the rooms all night or keep turning the lights on and off then you want to be in a decent place and hopefully avoid having to deal with it. That was the plan anyway. We hurried off down the road and when we arrived at the hostel, were pleased to discover that we’d arrived in time to claim two bottom bunks. Yay! First impressions of the place, the Tasman Bay Backpackers, were pretty good. The guy at the reception was friendly and helpful, it was bright and colourful without being over the top, the common areas looked very comfy and cosy and there was free, unlimited wifi- something which seems often unheard of in NZ. With my sister going to Canada for 4 months from today (or whatever the home equivalent was!), I really wanted to be able to keep in touch with how it was all going so the wifi was incredibly useful for that reason and was a big bonus. The rooms were also really nice and the beds made of wood rather than metal with big thick spongy mattresses and it all just screamed “good nights sleep”. This was great news indeed after this mornings early wake up!
Once we’d settled in and had covered our faces in sun lotion, we decided to go for a little walk and find ourselves some tasty fish and chips for tea. I’d been craving it for a while now and so getting some from a lovely little seaside town seemed like a good plan. As we wandered along the streets we saw a friendly dog and a cat sitting on a garage roof which was a nice surprise and I had to resist going over to try and tempt the cat over for strokes. I’ve been missing little cats for ages so it was quite a struggle but I was absolutely starving so we carried on to the shop. It was a lot like a little Scottish takeaway when we went in and ordered though it didn’t have the same greasy atmosphere. This was a gourmet fish and chip shop. Very posh indeed. We opted for the fish of the day, a portion of chips to share and two calamari rings and once it was ready, we took it back to devour it in the lovely hostel garden. Apparently there are trees and things you can pick fruit from which I think is such a good idea but I’d only seen some grapes and they didn’t look real. I’m pretty sure they were, I just didn’t want to look like a fool trying to pick fruit that was made of plastic! The fish and chips were very, very yummy and also quite strange. The fish of the day turned out to be elephant fish, a fish with an actual trunk like thing, so compared to something like haddock, it was incredibly exotic. I don’t think Codie thought it was the best fish he’d ever had as it was really lightly battered but we both munched it up, sat back in the sun and relaxed for a while.
A couple of hours later, it was time for the free chocolate pudding and ice cream. You could feel the excitement in the building intensify as it got to 8pm and a queue seemed to just appear out of thin air. Desperate not to miss out on this free chocolatey treat, we joined the line and found ourselves getting a bit over excited too. Well, who could blame us? It was absolutely delicious. I think the idea of it is to encourage travellers to make conversation with each other and for that reason they tell you to not use the wifi downstairs when it’s being served. Good idea and I’m sure it’s a strategy that works but when you’re shattered and just want to have a bit of quiet time, it’s not too fun so we headed upstairs. By this stage we’d been awake for about 14 hours and were in desperate need of a nice rest.
I’m now in the room, all showered and warm under the duvet. It’s been a hell of a long day but it’s nice to be in a new part of New Zealand and in the sunshine capital, Nelson. Who knows what’ll be doing tomorrow but we have a few busy days ahead of us so I’m happy to just have a nice calm few days here rather than rushing around. I don’t think I’ll survived NZ otherwise! I do know, however, that I’m determined to find a lovely cat to stroke as there’s one hanging around the hostel just asking for some. We used to feed the stray cats in Cardiff everyday so it;s quite strange to not even see cats around anymore. Very strange indeed. Anyway, Nelson seems like a lovely place and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it throughout our time here.