12 July 2016

South Island

It was another early morning, getting up before the sun  so that I could catch my ferry to the South Island.  The MS Kaiarahi is quite a large ship, carrying over 500 passengers and 500 cars across the narrow straits between the two big islands of New Zealand.  The ship is only 18 years old but served in Turkey, Poland, Sweden, England and other countries before being moved to NZ. 

The two islands aren't that far apart, but the safe harbor for each island takes quite a bit of navigation, so the journey takes 3 ½ hours, and fortunately today was another fantastic weather day, and the seas were almost as calm as they get, which was a relief.

You can see land for most of the journey, and some passengers spied a pod of dolphins but I was on the wrong side of the ship.  We arrived in a timely manner, and then I waited for the slowest rental car agent in the southern hemisphere to set me up with my car for my last 5 days here.  It felt like he had typed a novel with a lengthy appendix before he finally finished clacking away and sent me 'up the path and down a wee hill' to start my drive to Christchurch, the major city of the South Island, about 4 hours away.

This island has a lot going for it...less people, more sheep, and plenty of fantastic scenery.  I could tell by the map that ⅓ of the trip would be near the coast, but I wasn't expecting the road to be just meters from the waves.  A wayward gust of wind pushed some sea spray onto the windshield, since there was little room to squeeze in a 2-lane road and a single train track between the imposing mountains (many frosted with fresh snow) and the shore.  For a few kilometers, warning signs asked us to be alert for seals crossing the road, but fortunately the seals pay no attention to the DOT, and had the sense to stay in the water. 

Due to the lack of pull-outs, I didn't really get many pictures today, but hopefully I will on my second train excursion on Thursday.