Our first visit to New Zealand's South Island

Thursday 8th October

So given that I still wasn’t feeling well (a reoccuring theme over the last 4 months) we decided that 4 hours in a bus up and down mountains probably wasn’t in my best interests. Michael refused to go without me, so we regretfully cancelled our Lord Of The Rings Location Tour. While I would have loved to see the Weta Workshop, I just wasn’t up to it, but at least Hobbiton was one of my better days!

As a result, we slept in, and checked out at 11am. As our ferry wasn’t leaving until 2:45, that gave us a couple of hours to kill. So, we decided to hit up the Wellington Zoo.

Wellington Zoo was absolutely beautiful, built on a hill (like most of Wellington!) although most of the animals seemed to be sleeping. My theory was that they knew that it was school holidays and they were hibernating until it was over.

We saw otters (sleeping), a tiger (sleeping), sun bears (dozing in the sun), giraffes, the Australian section complete with emus, wallabys and a kangaroo literally roaming free, red bears (sleeping) and more. It was a pity that all of the animals were out of it, but it was still a lovely stroll around.

After we finished there, we headed to the ferry terminal to ensure that we would be there on time. Unbeknownst to us, the ferry was running half an hour late, so after dropping off the Mazda 3 key, we waited in the terminal for about 2 hours before boarding at 3:25pm.

The ferry was massive, and had space underneath for anything from cars to a train (which I’m glad I didn’t know about until AFTER we were coming off). It had a movie theater, several lounges, a cafe and a food court. Michael and I grabbed a couch each, and settled in for the 3 hour trip from the North Island to the South Island. It was fairly uneventful, with slightly more swell when we hit the Cooke Straight than expected, which made Michael a bit queasy. To be fair, he’d been reading a book, which was a rookie mistake. I was no more queasy than I am on any other given day!

We docked in Picton, picked up our new transport - a Ford Focus - and set off for Nelson at about 7:30. I really can’t tell you how stressful the next 2 hours were for me. The following things make me anxious - windy roads, night driving and driving in the rain and we had all of that as well as fog, being in an unfamiliar car and on unfamiliar roads. My valium for the day had worn off by this point, so this was not a good leg of the journey for me. Michael, bless his soul, was very patient with me and tried to take it as easy as he could.

Due to being held up by trucks and roadworks along the way, we ended up making it to the hotel at about 9:15pm. Luckily, the hotel reception didn’t close until 10pm (we’d called ahead and checked) but unluckily, their restaraunt had closed at 9pm. So, Michael dropped me and our gear off at the room, and headed off to pick up his favourite meal - McDonald’s.

Friday 9th October

We slept in again (I’m loving the sleep ins oh my god) and checked out at 10am, ready to face the 4hr+ drive to Hokitika. I was a bit worried about the drive, given that we had to drive through like 3hrs of mountain ranges, but it didn’t end up being too bad! The scenery was beautiful, and the really windy bits were spaced between long stretches of straighter roads. Being one of the longest stretches of driving in one day we’ll have to do here, it really helped having nice weather and pretty mountains to look at.

We made it to Hokitika in one hit. I kept asking Michael if he wanted a break somewhere but he is much too manly for such things. We checked into the hotel at about 2:30pm, dropped our stuff into the room, and headed straight back out to go to the Treetop Walk. After some initial directional issues from Siri (she was only 9kms out), we finally made it to the walk.

The Westcoast Treetop Walk is a 1.2km loop track, set 20 metres above the ground. About a third of the way around there is an additional tower, which goes up a further 27m. Michael was brave enough to make it up the tower, but there was no way I was going up there! The walkway itself was high enough for me!

Tomorrow, we head to Christchurch. We’re keeping our eye on the situation around Dunedin at the moment - we’re due to check in there Monday night but there have been bushfires in that area for the last few days! Fingers crossed the local fireys work their magic before then.

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