Local Heart, Global Soul

April 9, 2010

Sailing South into the Sunset…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We’ve parked the car in the bowels of the ship and come up to spend the next three and a half hours enjoying the journey top-side.

After a short stint looking around, a snack and refusal to sleep, the kids settle down on the carpeted Family area in front of a large  flat-screen TV that’s showing Dora CD’s and then various other kid friendly stuff.

They happily stretch out on the carpet with a small lineup of other kids, some of which are in their pajamas and a few who even have sleeping bags and small pillows.

Clearly this limited space has been thought about on a practical level because slowly as the ship progresses into the night, the kids fall asleep one by one in the little rows and the few bleary eyes one that resist are quietly transfixed by the action on the video.

Himself assigns himself to a chair close by to watch the kids, and to our amazement it’s not Little Mr. who falls asleep in the end but his older sister Little Miss.

I head out to the deck above to check out the journey home and try and get a few sunset photos.

Here’s a small documentary of the trip back to the South Island….

Heading into Wellington Harbour…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ships passing in the (not quite) night…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s 11.30 pm and dark as we arrive in Picton.  We had tried to organise accommodation in Picton but only ridiculously priced rooms were still available so we decided to drive the short 20-30 minutes onto to Blenheim where we have managed to get a family room and arranged for late check-in.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We drive off into the night… Direction Blenheim.

April 8, 2010

Getting ready to Ship back out to the South Island…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have been busy in Wellington and the time had passed almost before our eyes. We were due to return to the South Island two days ago, but since our friends and hosts bought out other friends from overseas to surprise us during our visit, we’d managed to arrange a change in our ferry booking and extend out stay to today. No easy feat considering that it’s two days before Christmas and the annual season travel rush is in full swing and we have a rental car to return to South Island soil.

We are booked on the evening ferry, and are due to sail at 8.00 p.m. and to arrive in Picton at 11.30 p.m.  Our friends drive to the ferry terminal where we try and say goodbye without getting too emotional (and fail) and we depart for the  car queue to board the ferry before we let loose the  emotional waterworks past the point of no return.

Then, as is typical when waiting for stuff, especially when you are stuck in a queue and can’t  go anywhere, we start to look around, people watching and make up scenario’s about our fellow passengers. Hmmm  probably the ones with all the Christmas presents and suitcases in the back are a family meeting other family in the South Island for Christmas.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The retired couple with  the small bag on the back seat and the bits of wrapping paper peeping out from the  back of the hatchback are clearly Grandparents of young children because everyone knows that the smaller the kid the bigger the  gift boxes seem to be, and they are being cautious and security conscious because they put the gifts in the hatchback boot, and obviously the gifts take up the whole space because their little suitcase doesn’t fit.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The dudes with the surfboards on the roof-rack needs no explanation, their packing  consisted of opening the car doors and literally chucking everything in the back seat, it’s all piled up in a mixed up mess, beach-towels,  loose items of  food like boxes of cereal, clothing etc. I’m willing to bet money that their boot (trunk) is full of beer…

To our right is the second lane of queuing cars, on our left,  a wire fence and train wagons shunting backwards and forwards, many of the rail wagons destined for the ferry too.  The trains little jig onto the various rail lines  and their constant action keeps Little Mr. delighted for most of the wait.

I take photos of the bay that leads out to the harbour, and of funny number plates on the car next to us.

The kids are tired and we hope to be able to find a seat on the Ferry where they can curl up and sleep for most of the crossing. At least the weather is good, so no rough crossing to have to confront. The green stomached sailor in me is more than relieved. Our time in the North Island is way too short, and it’s with sadness that we are leaving.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Into the depths of the ship we drive…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

.. and get ready to sail into the night.

April 4, 2010

The rough and the smooth of Ferrying us over NZ’s Cook Strait.

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have reached Picton, the port deep in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island, where the connection for the several Ferry companies that run between the two main islands is located. The weather is closing in, apparently it’s raining heavily in the lower half of the North Island, here in Picton it’s gray, dry but very windy.

Cook Strait is the name of the body of water that separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand.  It is named for Captain James Cook, who in 1770 was the first European to sail through it.

The water is forced though a narrow gap between the massive Pacific Ocean on one side and the Tasman Sea on the other.

The European Space Agency website says: ” In addition, the tidal flow through Cook Strait is unusual. The tide is out of phase, which means when it is high tide on one side it is low on the other, resulting in strong currents in the middle.

There’s a cool photo on their website showing the wind tunnel effect from space. http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMALV8I77G_index_0.html

“… it’s location in the Roaring Fourties means that since the strait is the only gap between the mountainous two islands, it acts as a huge wind tunnel, whipping up treacherous seas.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have used the Ferries between the two Islands on quite a few occasions, on one trip the sea was so incredibly calm that if I had had pebbles to throw, you probably would have been able to see the rings they made as they hit the water.

Once, though I had the opposite extreme, years ago, it was so rough that the ship rolled unmercifully, the tables were anchored to the floor with big metal bolts, but in those days all the chairs were loose. When the ship rolled to the left, all the unoccupied chairs started sliding left, when the ship rolled to the right, all those chairs started sliding to the right.  And boy, on that crossing did the boat roll.  Too many people were  rushing up front  past me with little  bags held to their mouths.

I, who would easily have the stomach to perform surgery on anyone, anywhere, in an emergency if given the necessary instructions,  am a hapless, useless, total wreck when it comes to people throwing up. All that does is set me off… and then I could out vomit everyone in sight.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

That’s why I was more than happy to sit in a pretty much empty restaurant for several hours of boat rolling hell dodging  constantly sliding chairs rather than go one deck up where the green faced  masses were gasping and I didn’t want to even start to imagine what else.

Fortunately these days Health and Safety rules mean that crossings like those are an exceedingly rare occurrence, and Ferry crossings are canceled when the weather is really  really rough.

Our crossing was rather smooth, in spite of the windy weather, there is a kid play area on the lower level (it’s tiny but hey, it’s certainly better than nothing) and there is a child friendly family area on the upper levels with TV, video’s and stuff to keep the kids happy for the three hour crossing.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Leaving Picton, at the north of the South Island…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

No sliding chairs or drama this time, I’m not the best sailor at any time so I’m relieved that it’s a good crossing,  and our friends are waiting in the car park at the Ferry terminal in Wellington in the rain,  full of smiles and ready to lead the way in their car so that we can get to their place without stress.

It’s a wonderful  and rather emotional welcome back to the North Island of New Zealand.

Arriving in Wellington in the rain…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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