Monday, 4 March 2013

Week 42 - What can you do with a random 36 hours? = Be Adventurous!

The Interislander Ferry!
Hello everybody, and you'll probably be pleased to know after lasts week's double read, this week's adventures will be mainly told through pictures! I'm going to share one of the more adventurous and random weekend's that I've had here, and quite possibly, ever had! 
Having previously postponed this trip by a few weeks, we (me and my flatmate) had rescheduled the trip for this weekend. Unfortunately it looked like I was going to take the trip by myself, as Kala couldn't make it - I asked pretty much anyone I thought I knew well enough that might consider coming away with me for a weekend, but it was too short notice for everyone - so I started to ask just anyone I met. On Thursday at the FINAL OUTDOOR SALSA class, I happened to mention to a friend of a friend (Soo-Yin - colleague of Steph) that I had a spare ticket for a weekend trip, and thought "oh sod it - I'll ask her if she's up for an adventure"! Quite surprisingly, Soo-Yin said she'd be up for joining me on this trip - despite the fact that we had only really met briefly twice before! Now I had my travel buddy sorted, there was only one thing left to do - get to the ferry on time! 
As I wanted a true random experience, I had not made a single plan for the trip, and all we knew was that we would leave Wellington on Saturday morning at 10:25, and return from the South Island on Sunday at 18:40! 
Map of the Crossing from North island (right), to South Island (left)
The crossing itself is listed in the top 5 FERRY CROSSINGS in the world, and it did not disappoint! Leaving Wellington by sea is beautiful enough, complete with dolphins swimming by the boat, but sailing through the 'Malbrough Sounds'  to reach Picton is spectacular! (See Below)

Malbrough Sounds - South Island
Malbrough Sounds
On arriving at Picton (pictures come later), we were faced with our biggest challenge - getting a hire car! It seemed like al 10 hire car companies were booked out, and as the queues built up it looked like everyone on the ferry had a car booking apart from us! I even shouted to people passing by if they were going our way, to ask if we could get a cheeky lift! 
We had made our way to the local tourist office and were just about to accept our fate of staying in Picton for the weekend, when we decided to check one last rental place! Not only did they have a car for $120 (£60), they had a nice car! The lady even gave us a little discount, and didn't charge us for going over the 24 hr period by a few hours, and the lady gave us advice about some nice wineries! So big thumbs up to AVIS car hire for making our weekend possible!  
Our lovely transport for the weekend! 
So after 90 mins on the road, with some very dodgy in-car singing - (mine, not Soo-Yin's), we reached Nelson, and searched for a place to stay. Deciding enjoy a little more comfort than available at 'Shortbread's Backpackers' we headed for a motel, and met a lovely English lady who told us about a festival "Taste Nelson" that was happening at that very moment! She even directed us to other motels as she didn't have an appropriate room! The Riverside Motel certainly did have a twin room with a very strange half of a 'twin' bed - more to come about that!
We found the MUSIC, FOOD, & WINE - 'Taste Nelson' festival in full swing when we arrived at the venue, and quickly grabbed a cider and a bite to eat, whilst sat listening to the country / Irish bands playing into the evening! I even managed to drag Soo-Yin up for a little dance with the crowd!

Taste Nelson - Festival
At the 'Taste Nelson' festival
After the festival finished around 19:30 - we headed off to try and catch the sunset at a local beach just a 10 minute drive away. We got lucky and despite the cloudy day, we managed to get some decent  pictures from the Neslon coastline - see below!
Nelson sunsets
Nelson Sunsets
Beach football????
After a walk, we ate some super hot Thai take out that had Soo-Yin blowing smoke out of her ears, and my chuckling at my wise decision to take the 'medium' Thai curry! We then retired for the night, with Soo-Yin forcing me to take the 'prisoner's room' / cupboard! (She didn't force me really!) The bed was literally tucked away in the corner of the room - see below! 
The 'prisoner' twin bed!
SUNDAY - After expecting rain all day, I was truly amazed to wake up to glorious sunshine in Nelson, so we were keen to make the most of the time we had, and took out host's advice to head to Rabbit Island! (before leaving without paying - tut, tut, Soo-Yin - we paid later after calling the motel to apologize!). On the way to Rabbit Island we stopped to take some photos of the Nelson coastline.

Rabbit Island was a little piece of paradise, with forests, beaches, and river beds to explore - if only we had more time! I was certainly in no mood to waste any opportunity, and was soon getting my 'toggs' (swimming trunks) ready for use!
Rabbit Island
Happy Dan @ Rabbit Island
Bird bathing.... Rabbit Island
Rabbit island Beach...
Rabbit Island river beds...
Rabbit Island river beds... 
There were quite a few random sights along the way, but none more so than this unusual flower pot - a full blown car! 

Random sights!
After all this adventure, we needed a bite to eat and a glass of gorgeous New Zealand wine, to relax in the sun and reflect on the amazing day so far! Having been unlucky to find our first choice winery full, it turned out pretty well as we found this beautiful food and wine at this cafe..... 

Venison pie! hmmmm...
Nothing could be more fitting after a good meal in this part of the world, than a spot of wine tasting! There are literally dozens of wineries around Nelson, and we found a quaint little place - one that even had some decent basket weaving! (Professional private joke)!

Nelson Winery
After wine, food, beaches, swimming and forests, the time came to head back home and another 2 hour drive back to Picton - through some stunning scenery - which included seeing a Hawk swoop down to grab some 'road-kill' - amazing!
Driving back to Picton!
Driving back to Picot
 No trip is ever complete without some ice cream, and Soo-Yin got a little greedy with her ice cream!

We finally arrived back in Picton with an hour or so spare before boarding the ferry home. We had a little look around this picturesque town - and noted the places where we could come back to check out, and hire kayaks, sea planes, water taxis and mouton bikes! 
Me in Picton 
Captain Cook info!
So the day, and the trip ended as it begun, on the Inter-islander Ferry home to Wellington, and for the first time since I've been living here, I returned to Wellington feeling like it was quite a large city - a real reminder of the differences between the north & South Island of New Zealand! 
I was left to think about this quite amazing trip, with so much adventure, totally unplanned and left to chance, with a relative stranger -  and how this was a great reminder to see what can happen when you allow yourself to step outside of your comfort zone once in a while...
Regards from New Zealand! 

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