Day 9: 2am Ferry and Marlborough Sounds

We finished the tour of North Island with a blast. Most things in our itinerary were crossed out (with a few stops left on the way back) and it was time to jump over to the South Island and finally get the taste of the mountain scenery NZ was so famous for. All the ferries during the day were booked out so we hopped on 2am boat to Picton. It turned out that this insane hour was a good choice because everyone on the boat was fast asleep and we had free wifi to ourselves. It meant that we could sort out our travel blog, write a few emails and check what everyone was up to on facebook – newborn babies, beach head shots, plates of fancy food etc. When we were done, we wanted to get some sleep, but it was so cold there was no way we could drift off. Finally Ale lost patience, sneaked under the deck to our van and brought us our warm duvet. Buried under it, we fell asleep instantly, no matter that our bodies were twisted like Pringles in the seats.

At 6am we woke up to an amazing view of South shore. We had Picton before us and Marlborough Sounds to our right. Bathed in the light of rising sun, they looked like pictures from a documentary. We couldn’t wait to explore the area, yet we were so dizzy, the only thing we could do was get off the ferry, park in the closest car park and go to bed as we were, only taking our shoes off.

We woke up when the sun was high up and the weather was too good to waste it on snoozing. We jumped out of the van, went to the nearest information point, took maps and headed to explore Queen Charlotte Track, the most scenic walking track in Marlborough Sounds. The Sounds are a very picturesque mixture of hills falling into the ocean, sandy beaches and little bays. We wanted to see as much of them as possible and had an ambitious plan of arriving to the end of the road, hiking from there for four hours and taking a water taxi back. The plan sounded great, but reality opened our eyes fairly quickly. We only got to a third of the way by car when we started feeling sick on winding, narrow roads. It was taking ages and we were wasting time in the car instead of enjoying the outdoors. We turned around and went to the nearest beach instead. That was a good choice. We stretched our legs on part of Queen Charlotte Track and when we got back we wanted to go for a swim in the turquoise waters of Akinawa beach. The water looked inviting, but its temperature was far from it. I couldn’t resist and dipped in anyway. It was so cold that I jumped out faster than I jumped in. Ale touched the water with his little toe and backed away. I would too if I had litle more common sense. But then I thought, we’ve got ginger, lemon and of course vodka in the fridge in case I get sick. In the end I was actually glad I went in, because our shower for the day was as freezing as the one in Wellington and so it was not so much of a shock any more.

The best part of the day though was our campsite for the night. We came across it by chance and decided to stay straight away. It was right on the beach with a view of Marlborough Sounds. There were no toilets and running water, but we didn’t care, the view was there. When we got there, there was only one camper in the campground and the couple driving it was already on the beach in their fishing chairs and bottles of beer. We joined them as soon as we got there. Then other camperists arrived, all of them couples, and we ended up with six pairs of fishing chairs in a perfect row, all of us watching the sunset like a movie in cinema.






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