New Zealand with Kids - Day Nine, Inter Islander ferry, Picton, Blenheim, Christchurch

Friday, 11 February 2011

So lovely to get out of that horrendous apartment early and queue at the waterfront for the Inter Islander ferry at 7am. We were all SO excited. One of the first cars onboard, we headed upstairs and found ourselves a lovely window-seat in the ‘recliner’ seat area.

Now, be warned, there’s a reason this area is equipped with recliners. It felt like we’d bordered a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, because despite being a rapid journey of just 3 hours, departing at 8.30am (a time most people are waking up for the day), it seemed this area was one-stop destination for anyone keen for a kip… including a 200 pound fellow who began snoring like a freight train 15 minutes into our voyage.

Yes, I got up and shook him until his teeth rattled! Thankfully, Snoresy was not too bad for the rest of the trip and even disappeared after a while.


The trip to Picton is around three hour's duration, with about an hour in open sea. Our voyage was smooth and pleasant. They have a café on board (the ship is called the Kaitaki), a great kids' playground on a lower deck, a food hall, shops, information centre and many decks (including a top deck) to enjoy the views. There was even a magician to entertain the kids with a 45 minute show.

Entering Queen Charlotte Sound is very beautiful, with small mountains and a snaking, meandering inlet with beautiful bays along the way. The kids loved the voyage so much, they wanted to go straight back to Wellington!

As you come into the Sound, be sure to stake out a spot on the top deck to get some photos, as just about everyone clambers up the stairs for a look. You can also politely ask the rail hoggers to move for a minute so you can get a picture - they happily oblige! There's also less-crowded lower decks to view from.

the land of the short white cloud
Voyagers can either take their car onboard or travel without it. It’s an expensive trip with a car but well worth it as not only is the trip beautiful, you can hit the road immediately and not have to rehire a vehicle or stay overnight in Picton. Another option is to take the train from Picton to Christchurch instead of driving.

If you're keen to explore the incredible landscapes of the northern peninsula, it would be worth staying over in Picton and at least completing the Queen Charlotte track or taking some day trips to any number of stunning areas and towns.

The drive south to Christchurch along the eastern coast takes you first through impressive, craggy mountains and heavily wooded hills then segways into soft rolling humps and stunning farmland. Then, suddenly, the azure coastline comes breathtakingly into view. It's a pure wonderland of earthly delight.

The trip was lengthier than we thought – it took us just under 5 hours, including a half hour stop at Bleinhem for coffee (a sweet little place but curiously devoid of any decent coffee shops).

The drive itself was a lot less hassle than we presumed. Undivided single lanes the whole way, the traffic was minimal, any truckies very gracious, and despite several patches of roadworks, the roads really flowed. The ferry’s considerable traffic seemed to dissipate really effectively out of Picton, as we weren’t trapped behind any vehicles at the onset of our journey.

The other surprise about this trip was the breathtaking coastal scenery. Between Ward and Oaoro, and peaking around Kaikoura, the views along the winding coastal road were absolutely stunning – azure blue and teal sea, white rocks, incredible bluffs, winding roads that rival the best in the world – we were so surprised this stretch of road is not more world-renowned for its beauty. We were truly open-mouthed the whole way.

the kids enjoyed the scenery, but also the iPad and iPhone!
About half way along, we hit lots of rain so the stunning farming and mountain scenery was too shrouded to enjoy, alas. But the rain soon cleared and we had a relatively clear run into beautiful Christchurch... and what an amazing place. A miniature world-class city, it has such a warm, inviting, artsy, gorgeous feel about it - and is monumentally pretty, with loads to see and do.

Thankfully, the Scenic Apartments on Kilmore Street are just lovely, well-equipped, spacious and spotlessly clean – such a major major major relief after our Wellington experience. The apartments are also situated just north of Victoria Square park, only a few streets north of the city centre… such a brilliant position and still nice and quiet – no traffic noise at all.

After a quick grocery shop at New World (best supermarket EVER), we cooked up dinner and settled in for the night.

New Zealand with Kids - Day Three, Auckland
New Zealand with Kids - Day Four, Rotorua
New Zealand with Kids - Day Five, Rotorua
New Zealand with Kids - Day Six, Lake Taupo, Palmerston North, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Seven, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Eight, Wellington
New Zealand with Kids - Day Ten, Christchurch
New Zealand with Kids - Day Eleven, Christchurch
New Zealand with Kids - Day Twelve, Queenstown
New Zealand with Kids - Day Thirteen, Queenstown
New Zealand with Kids - Day Fourteen, Queenstown, Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Wanaka


Dani said...

Just wanted to say I have spent the best part of my evening catching up on your adventures. Your wonderful writing and photography goes without saying. What I feel does need saying though is how wonderful it is to see your family enjoying the amazing experience. I can't help but think of a certain movie I think you know that says " I think it pisses God off to walk past the colour purple and not appreciate it" (or similar). It is a real credit to you that your children will never walk through a rose garden and not see the beauty or nibble on a delicacy and not appreciate where it came from. What a legacy you shall leave. X

Tania McCartney said...

You take my breath away, Dan. x

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Loving your travel diary - what a great record of your trip. Family holidays are the best - enjoy the rest of the trip!!

Anonymous said...

Visually - AMAZING!! Tb

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