February 25, 2009

Discovering Marlborough: Part One

It had been a while since our last family holiday together – in fact it was July last year, so we felt it was time to have a break away. So a ‘break away’ from what? Well Wellington is just amazing and to be honest I do sometimes still find myself in holiday mode, it’s very easy to feel that way here. Although normal everyday life does continue, work, housework, routine etc. meaning a break is always much needed.

New Zealand is simply stunning from top to toe, with some of the most amazing places within easy reach. This time we decided to head to Nelson and so started making plans. Of course leaving the going away plans literally to the last minute in peak summer time is never going to work, and we found that out when trying to find accommodation. So our 5 night trip originally planned for Nelson, became a 1 night stay in Picton, 2 nights in the Marlborough Sounds and 2 final nights central Nelson.

We have had the most amazing time! One of the best holidays we have EVER been on, we did so much in those few days, more than we ever thought possible. Of course I am breaking up the posts – upon checking the camera there were over 700 photos and at least 30 videos, so the first part starts like this…

After packing up the car and dropping Denver at his most wonderful kennels, Bethany and I headed to town (locals call the city of Wellington ‘town’!) and picked up Michael. Sitting in the queue at the ferry terminal conjured up happy memories of the last time we sat there with my parents when they visited last year, reminiscing of the fun times and how much we miss them.

As we sat we watched our ferry arrive which was to be the Arahua (a Māori word meaning “pathway to dawn”) – the middle sized boat out of the three that run from Wellington to Picton over the Cook Strait. Last time we travelled with the bigger ship and enjoyed our time adventuring all that there was to see. A difference this time being that the biggest ship (called the Kaitaki – a Māori word meaning “challenger”) holds 1600 people and the one we were about to board just 550 people.

The crossing was fine but to be honest we missed the fun of the bigger ship. There was only one bar, one restaurant and one tiny play area. 3 hours is a long time when there isn’t much to do. Not only that when we ventured to the restaurant (literally 10 minutes into the sailing) for our last meal of the day, we found they had sold out of everything!

Anyway with a sandwich in hand we headed outside to take in the views and wave goodbye to Wellington.

The sun was shining as we left the inlet of Wellington harbour, but as we progressed further the sun was obscured by low cloud. I was hoping on a beautiful sunset but sadly the weather turned, and by the time we arrived in Picton it was overcast and threatening that wet stuff. We hopped off the ferry with one very happy little girl in tow. Bethany had made friends with another little girl who was from Switzerland at the play area, the little girl knew basic English but that wasn’t needed for a game of tag – Bethany and the little girl exchanged details and intend to email each other – long gone are the days of writing an actual hand letter!!
So we headed straight to our accommodation for that night – the Ferrylink Motel. As it was going to be 9.35pm by the time we were due to arrive in Picton we just picked the nearest and most convenient for a good nights sleep before heading off the next morning.

The motel was fine, clean, but very basic and not somewhere we could have survived for longer than a night. It was also a little over priced I think, really just putting a price tag on the fact its convenient for travellers straight off the ferry. Anyway, we still all had a beautiful sleep only being woken once in the night by the sound of heavy rain outside. The next morning we found this was how our first day was going to be.
We packed up the car, running in the rain and dodging the puddles. We headed for Picton where we enjoyed a big breakfast. After breakfast we headed for a quick walk back to the car stopping only briefly to take photos of a very wet and deserted Picton. From there we decided to head to the only place we knew that was inside entertainment: Eco World Aquarium and Terrarium.

Now we had heard from friends that this place was pretty nasty, so we actually sat in the car park wondering if we should waste our money going in. Of course not only did we have nothing to do due to the rain, we kind of should have known that Bethany can now read certain words and was not leaving without a fight – so we headed inside!
And how happy were we to discover it was wonderful!! We had a brilliant time viewing the fish, the stingray, turtles, and seahorses. We listened to a guy doing a talk on various creatures of the sea and watched him hand feed a baby shark. Later on we managed to get up close and personal with a Reef Star starfish and held Kina. Very enjoyable, we were even offered a free return within a week if we wanted which was lovely.


With that taking up our morning we headed to the supermarket to stock up on food and drink (and by drink we mean alcohol!).

Onwards we went into the rain, but that wasn’t going to kerb our excitement as we headed off to our next destination – a 5 star luxury retreat – only accessible by boat!


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