We reached Picton earlier than planned and parked in the main shopping street so that we could get a cup of tea…
…however we got side-tracked by several gift shops close to the car, having remembered that we needed to pick up some things for people back home and that (opps) we haven’t done any gift shopping yet.
Himself and Little Mr wandered further down the street looking for a hardware shop because we need an adapter while Kiwi Daughter and I browsed a handcraft shop that we couldn’t miss since we were practically parked outside the door.
The time just skipped away so by the time the boys returned we no longer had time to find a cuppa but needed to head down to the ferry terminal to board the boat.
Little Mr. had obviously turned on the charm because he arrived back clutching an ice-cream, so of course now Kiwi Daughter wanted one too and by the time Himself had backtracked to get one for her I was starting to wonder if we would ever get to the boat on time.
We needn’t have worried… we were still early enough and amazingly despite the delay, near the head of the queue, but that said about fifteen minutes later the waiting area for vehicles was packed as vehicles arrived suddenly en mass.
We still had to wait some time whilst everyone was being marshalled into their correct lines but once the loading process started it all went quickly enough.
Since it’s a three and a half hour crossing, I opted to take the laptop and the Nintendo’s up top with us as well as a slew of colouring books and toys that the kids decided they needed, but as soon as we got to a sitting area I found myself left with the stuff as the kids disappeared with Himself to the upper deck to look around and explore.
The ferry sailed before they returned so I opened my travel notes, wrote several blog posts, sorted photographs and then when they arrived back they immediately announced that they were starving and dragged Himself off again to find food.
I’d earlier expressed interest in getting some photos of the Sounds, but stuck guarding baggage I couldn’t carry, it didn’t happen so you’ll have to wait until the return journey (fingers crossed the weather is as good then).
We set sail from Picton just after 6:00 p.m and docked in Wellington around 9:30 p.m. By the time we get back into the car the kids were tired and just wanted to sleep.
Luckily this trip we got a TomTom from Teddy our favourite rental car guy so we don’t need our friends to come to meet us at the Wellington ferry terminal.
We head up the Hutt Road towards Petone and Lower Hutt where we will turn off to go up and over the hill to Wainuiomata, as we travel northwards on the Hutt highway we can see the road lights leading up the hill across the harbour in the distance on our right.
After events in Christchurch it’s a sobering thought that the highway we are travelling on, sits on a narrow strip of land that follows the coastline and didn’t even exist a century ago, it was thrust up suddenly in a massive earthquake roughly a hundred years ago.
It’s no surprise because this part of New Zealand sits smack bang on top of part of the Trans Alpine fault that runs a good length of the whole country.
Before that earthquake, the steep sides of the coastal hills meant that the only way to get to Lower Hutt was by ship, across the harbour.
Little Mr. is delighted that we are away from Christchurch and the constant shaking there and announces that he feels safe here, so we think it best not to tell him that not only is the Trans Alpine a fault hundreds of kilometres long: remember the rule of thumb “the longer the fault the bigger the jolt” …(compared to the 35kms of Christchurch’s longest most recent one) but it’s well overdue for a really big shake too.
The quake they are waiting for here is what all of new Zealand calls “the Big One” and like many big faults in seismic areas the world, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”.
In the meantime it doesn’t make sense to enlighten an already quake traumatised six year old boy to these facts so Little Mr. is in blissful ignorance and totally happy to be here.
Our friends tell us that Wainuiomata started off as a saw milling settlement but grew massively when cheap houseing was built there from the 1920′s or 30′s onwards…
…the marketing people gave it the name “Happy Valley”but young families with small children moved there in such numbers that it was quickly dubbed “Nappy Valley” (for my North American readers: a “nappy” is a diaper).
Our friends have not only waited up for us, but since we have to leave again fairly early tomorrow morning, have decided to make the most of our short stay…everything is ready and waiting so that tried kids can be tucked into beds and a leg of lamb and a roast dinner is waiting in the oven for us too… despite the time and the long day Himself and I enjoy a hearty meal and a lot of laughs before retiring and sleeping deeply.
Picton is at almost bottom centre of the next photo… the ferry takes Queen Charlotte Sound route out to sea…
On the road a quake built (raised out of the sea) and looking towards the road on the hill to Wainuiomata in the distance at right.