Seals, Splashes and Sinking: Our Trip Back To Wellington

“Abandon ship! Abandon ship! This is the call to abandon ship immediately!”. Everybody glanced around the room, judging other peoples’ reactions and deciding what to do. Lying back on the lovely comfy seat, I carried on reading my book and snuggled up into my lovely warm fleece. You might think that that’s a bit of stupid thing to do when you’re being told to leave the ship straight away and I’d agree but this was a drill on board the Interislander ferry heading back to the North Island. There was no need to panic and every need to just sit back, relax and enjoy the trip.

* * * *

Lovely Hector's Dolphin Artwork
Lovely Hector’s Dolphin Artwork

Thud, splash, thud went the rain drops as they splattered off the roof and the windows of our room. A quick glance outside showed that thick white and grey clouds had moved in overnight and it was absolutely tipping it down. Oh dear. I love a good rain shower as I love the feeling off being snuggly and cosy inside and the sound of it is so relaxing but not when we needed to walk to the bus stop, I’m not such a huge fan. Hmmm. Knowing that there wasn’t really much we could do, we picked up our things and left the Dusky Lodge. I’d really been looking forward to staying there as it looked really nice with it’s wooden beams and almost Scottish character but sadly it had been a little bit disappointing. Yes it had those things but it didn’t have the friendly atmosphere I’d been anticipating and the mattresses had been so thin, I could feel the wooden slats digging into my hips. Neither of those things were huge problems as we’d been either out or completely exhausted for most of the time, it was just a shame that it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. What can you do though, it did the job and that was the main thing when we had so many exciting things planned.

IMG_6617As we wandered down the road, I turned back to have one last look at the mountains only to be greeted with a wall of white. They’d gone! Just like the day we arrived, the clouds swirling about had completely covered them to the point where unless you knew that they were there, you could drive through the town thinking that it’s completely flat. Of course that’d be until you reached them, then you’d have a bit of a shock! Somehow we’d managed to completely avoid the rain and it was holding off as we made our way through the town and finally reached the bus stop. It was nice to be able to have a proper look around from without it being blurred by the weather and everybody was still happily walking around, smiling and getting on with things. I was going to miss the little town. The people were friendly, there were little cats walking about (always a good thing) and the amount of wildlife around was incredible. It’s definitely one of my favourite ever places. Talking of cats, a nice little old woman walked past with a cat in a cage which she was pushing in a pram. She said that she liked my cat scarf and then carried on walking around with it which was a little bit strange.

Grassmere Saltworks pointed out to us by the nice bus driver
Grassmere Saltworks pointed out to us by the nice bus driver

30 minutes later and we were on the bus and off towards Wellington. We had a lovely bus driver who told us lots of little things along the way like the meaning of Kaikoura is “crayfish food” or something along those lines and even pointed out where fur seals congregate along the coast. It was nice to actually have a driver who clearly enjoyed his job and socialising with people rather than someone who kept themselves to themselves and acted as though we were a huge hassle as has been the case a couple of times. Not only did it make us feel a lot more relaxed, it also meant that we got one last look at the seals on the rocks as we went past which really was lovely. I think we saw more than we did on the seal kayaking trip yesterday!

On route to Picton
On route to Picton

There were only a few stops during this particular journey so it didn’t take long until we headed into the little town of Picton. Pulling up at the ferry port, we quickly made sure we had everything then jumped off, grabbed our bags and hurried towards the building to check in. I’d read that we technically had to be there 45 minutes before departure and we only had 30 minutes so were in a bit of a rush but that turned out to be the least of our problems. Despite booking the bus and the ferry well over 1.5 months ago though Naked Bus, they’d taken our money but hadn’t actually booked us on it. Absolutely shocking. Just when I’d started thinking that the company perhaps wasn’t as bad as I’d initially thought, they went and did that. Grrrrrrr. Luckily we only have one more journey with them before we get back to Australia and get back to the familiar comfort of the Greyhound Bus. Hooray for that! We’ve had quite mixed experiences with Naked Bus throughout our NZ trip, some good and some bad, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d really recommend them to anyone travelling around on the North Island. It just never seemed to go well there. The South Island, however, was much better so I’d be more likely to encourage people to use it there but only if the other buses were too expensive. It’s such a shame as some of the drivers were lovely but uncomfortable seats, delays and sometimes irritable drivers meant that more often than not, the journeys just weren’t pleasant.

Beautiful Marlborough Sounds
Beautiful Marlborough Sounds

When we boarded the ferry having checked in our horrible bulky bags, we found ourselves some seats and settled down to wait to set off. It was a little bit let setting off but it wasn’t long until the town of Picton crept across towards the horizon and we headed towards the port of Wellington. Rather than spending all the time sat inside, we decided to venture out onto the deck to see what we could see from there so once we were wrapped up and ready, off we went. I really hoped that we’d be able to see some dolphins as I’d read a review saying there’s been some the last time we’d been on the ferry which we’d missed. I was so disappointed to hear that and didn’t want it to happen again! Missing dolphins is never fun! As if by magic, almost as soon as we stepped out into the whistling wind and biting cold, I noticed a splash in front of a boat a little way out. Using my camera to get a closer look, I saw the unmistakable fins of dolphins cutting though the water occasionally accompanied by one leaping out of the water. Yay! We didn’t get to see them for too long as the ferry was a lot faster than they were and they weren’t really very interested in playing but I was so pleased to have seen them. What made it even better was that they were bottlenose dolphins, a completely different kind to the ones we’d seen yesterday and presumably the day before too. 4 species of dolphins in 2 days; not a bad ending to our visit to the South Island!

Yum
Yum

The rest of our time on board the ferry was taken up by tasty fish and chips and a couple of emergency drills for the crew. Codie had managed to get me four chicken nuggets as part of my meal due to the staff running out chips so that was pretty good. Ok, I say pretty good, I am still quite childish when it comes to nuggets and could happily eat a whole box to myself. Luckily I have some self restraint and haven’t quite reached that stage yet but those four were a lovely treat. Yum. Not too long later, 3 and a bit hours after we’d set off, the ferry docked in Wellington and we collected our bags and hopped on the shuttle bus. Thank god for that shuttle bus! We barely had enough energy to move let alone walk all the way to the station so that really was appreciated and even more so when we discovered that we had to catch another bus and climb a little road hill to reach the hostel. It was horrendous and we’d already decided that we hated Trek Global by the time we reached it. For two tired people, a hill wasn’t something we wanted to deal with and it was such a relief when we finally made it, checked in and headed to our second room floor.

Back to Wellington
Back to Wellington

My, my the room was a mess. When I say mess, I don’t just mean a few little things here and there, nope, the floor was completely covered in what appeared to be a bag explosion. It wasn’t the best,especially when all the stuff was blocking access to the cupboards where it should all have been. Grrrrrrr. I don’t understand why people seem to just get everything out and leave as I certainly couldn’t do it. You hear so many stories about travellers’ possessions being stolen but if everyone’s things are everywhere then it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. There was absolutely no way of telling what belonged to who! The room also completely stank of stale sweat and two rather grumpy looking people so instead of hanging around, we went and sat in the common area for a bit. That bit of the place seemed alright and we stayed there for a couple of hours until a load of drunk and loud people came in and began shouting and falling over things. I was glad we were only having to stay there one night as any longer and I think I’d have started to hate Wellington which would have been such a shame since we’d had a lovely day there last time.

It’s 11pm and we’re in bed, showered, packed, fed and ready to go. I’m not looking forward to facing the long 11 hour journey in the morning but there’s not much we can do other than accept it and just get on with things. I’ll be very sad to leave New Zealand and I hope we can visit again sometime in the future though perhaps not in hostels. Hostels here are much the same as Australia, very often a bit loud, a bit dirty and a bit expensive but a very good way of saving money providing you are willing to sacrifice some good quality sleep. It’s not always a bad thing but if you’ve planned some busy days of activities, it can be a bit of a pain. That’s not to say that all hostels are like that, we’ve stayed in some amazing ones, but I think it’d be lovely to be able to remove the stress of trying to sleep whilst simultaneously blocking out the sound of snoring. Still, it’s been great and more often than not the excitement has overshadowed the tiredness so it hasn’t been the end of the world. To be honest I think that I’m letting the annoyance of having to stay here shape my opinions as most places are alright. I just hope that we’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep tomorrow before our early start and flight back to Brisbane. Fingers crossed!

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