Local Heart, Global Soul

February 26, 2013

It’s Not an Island, But in Order to Go Sailing We Need to Take a Ferry…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Dutch landscape presents us with the typical situation where the land in this recreational area is so fragmented by waterways and little roads between them so few (actually most of them aren’t roads at all, they are cycle paths) that the quickest and easiest way to get to your sailing boat is to take a ferry.

Ok,  not actually “our” sailing boat, but our Brother in Law’s.

There are quite a few marina’s dotted around this area, hidden in little sheltered alcoves of water off larger stretches of water that form the nation’s  second most popular highways, especially in the summer months.

We arrive at a little jetty on the side of one of the slightly bigger canals and settle in to wait for the ferry to arrive.

This ferry route only operates in the summer months, the boats we are visiting today and all of those in the surrounding marina’s will shortly be lifted out of the water put into winter storage,  otherwise they will be damaged when the canals freeze in the winter.

Our short hop is to the building we can see on the far side of the water, it’s under the three big trees in the first photograph and the ride costs roughly 50c per person (actually I think  it may actually have been less), certainly it was loose change worth for the fare and the gentleman skipper was very friendly and bid us a cheery hello.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This area is peppered with cycle paths and so there were plenty of cyclists using the ferry like a bridge to negotiate the watery obstacles of the recreational area too. The kids help with get the picnic gear on-board and the journey across takes literally a few minutes.

The yellow sign on the water warns us that repair work is being done on the edge of the dyke so water craft are advised to keep ten meters from the work site… little motor boats go past with fishermen and their gear, and as we leave the shore I spy an artificial platform that’s been put up to encourage storks to nest on it… storks like high vantage points in the open and well, high voltage electric pylons are obviously not ideal.

In the city they have been known to annex the roofs of high-rise apartment blocks, a situation that requires rather a lot of give and take when getting on with the neighbours as they are rather hefty birds. The weather is warm and the weather-man promised a very decently hot day but this the Netherlands and that weather report went out of the window hours ago as old news and now the sky is full of gathering clouds… we will see what the day brings.

First… a very short, but very convenient ferry ride.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 13, 2013

Don’t Mention the Melting Pot Within Meters of Botels,Ferries,Rainbows, Tall Ships and a Sub..

Filed under: AMSTERDAM,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are have boarded the Amsterdam Pancake Boat and are waiting to set sail… the area of the harbour where we are docked is filled with some very interesting vessels, and rather an odd mix to be standing alongside each other.

There’s the ferry busy unloading and loading the masses who are going to or returning from the flea market,  there’s a restored tall masted schooner called the  gulden leeuw (golden lion) that started life as the “dana”, a 1937 biological research ship for the Danish ministry.

These days people can sign up to join her professional crew on short seagoing holidays  to places like the Orkney’s (Scotland) or  from Falmouth in England to Denmark, Germany or Sweden. (more information and better photos than mine in the links)

http://www.atseasailtraining.com/177/ships/55/gulden-leeuw.html   and http://www.orkneyharbours.com/pdfs/outline%20amsterdam%20-%20stromness.pdf.

Then there’s the replacement Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace vessel that replaced the original Rainbow Warrior, sunk in New Zealand’s Auckland Harbour in 1985 by French agents who wanted to prevent Greenpeace from interrupting nuclear tests on the Pacific atoll of  Moruroa.

There’s no missing  the massive “Botel”, you guessed it, a hotel on a boat… and at one hundred and seventy-five cabins, a big one at that.

It’s advertised as a reasonably priced place to stay: I’ve never been there and couldn’t vouch for how good it is but it certainly would be a very “different” sort  hotel to stay at for a night and I think it might be fun. I like that fact that you are in a harbour and the ship is big enough that even serious land-lubbers like me would find it steady enough to mange a comfortable stay. (note: I’m such a infamously bad sailor that once in bad weather I even managed to be sea sick on a ship that had only just left the dock by a few metres) http://www.amstelbotel.nl/

Then something very unexpected: a submarine! Some research tells me it’s a “soviet Zulu 5 class B-80” which probably tells expects and happy sub mariner hobbyists all they need to know, but is lost on me. Apparently the owners were/ are trying to rent it out as a party boat (with limited success) so the poor vessel sits doomed awaiting a scrap metal yard. That seems a great shame to me, surely it could be resurrected as a tourist attraction or museum or something? http://www.comtourist.com/history/b-80-submarine/

All in all it’s a very mixed assortment of sea going vessels in close proximity to each other…variety is the spice of life and apparently the Dutch melting pot continues on the water front (although maybe I wouldn’t say the word “melting pot” too loudly to the poor submarine.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 6, 2012

From Tempest to Calm…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this part of my retrospective travel diary we have boarded the Inter-Island Ferry and are heading out of Wellington Harbour bound for Picton at the top of the South Island.

Himself and the kids leave me with the bags and go check off a few necessary things: a  tour of the conveniences, a look-see out on deck at Wellington Harbour which in squally weather meant they were ready for some hot food once they came back inside.

Once they were settled with food and the kids were being entertained by a magician  doing a show close to where we were sitting, I took the opportunity to venture cautiously outside.

I stayed within a few steps from the door and was only outside for a short while because by now we were approaching the open sea of Cook Straight and in this  inclement weather I knew it was going to be a rough crossing. Kiwi Daughter and I both had our wrist bands on against motion sickness and if I had had any doubts to the benefits of these they were dispelled now. I’m a rotten sailor and have been every possible shade of green known to humankind on boats both large and small over the years and yes the crossing of Cook Straight on this occasion was no picnic.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I will be honest and say that Kiwi Daughter I didn’t enjoy the open sea part of the crossing,  all but the hardiest of passengers retreated to the upper deck lounge areas and as the ship rolled steeply from side to side in the big swells in the middle of the Straight and we did feel very queasy,  but while kids  and adults around us were using sick bags and in tears, we pressed very hard on our wrist bands and actually managed not to join them.

In the circumstances this can be regarded as a minor miracle and even Kiwi Daughter was delighted that she hadn’t parted with breakfast. (I’d looked at the weather and based on past experiences had deemed it wiser to skip breakfast altogether).

Once we entered the shelter of Marlborough Sounds however, two things happened… first we ran completely out of the rain and wind of the storm and second, the sea was suddenly wonderfully calm … for which I’m sure all but t few  passengers were very grateful.  I ventured back outside and from a little spot on the railing just two steps from the door, enjoyed the fresh sea air and took photos all the way as the ship makes it’s way down the Sounds. There are no photos of the open sea section but here’s a look at some of the journey….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So much calmer as we enter the heads of the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As we wind our way into the shelter of the Sounds, I look back and see the stormy weather behind us in Cook Straight…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Up until now it’s been raining but not only does it ease off considerably at first, we even run out of it and into sunny skies…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Unusual tree-line on the hills…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Glad we are sailing away from the storm and not into it…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This little dome of an island is a well known landmark…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 17, 2012

Making A Ferry Crossing and a Taking the Road a Quake Built to get to Nappy Valley…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Picton is at almost bottom centre of the next photo… the ferry takes Queen Charlotte Sound route out to sea…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch) Map NZ cd

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 24, 2011

Taking the Little Roads and Waterways Homewards…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,THE NETHERLANDS,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are leaving the campsite at Leerdam this morning and making our way back to The Hague.

It would have been nice to do a few more things around the area but I have a hospital appointment to get to just before lunch so Himself and I agree on an early start that that we make it back in good  time.

I’d packed up most of our clothes last evening (actually I was looking for Little Mr’s misplaced pyjamas and I ended up packing away everything we didn’t need the next morning  so the jammies turned up because they were more or less the only thing left laying around) .

The tent came down and was packed up much faster than we ever thought possible, and before we knew it,  Himself had wheelbarrowed not only the gear back to the car but the kids as well  (That’s Little Mr under the blanket in the wheelbarrow) and it wasn’t even nine in the morning yet!

A large part of of our unexpected time efficiency is that the kids and I just aren’t hungry at the moment, we have some fruit left over and Himself, who rose at his usual time of 5:00 a.m. ate his breakfast hours ago, so we decide  to find somewhere for a toasted sandwich or a bread roll on the way home.

Since we are sitting in the car by nine and the trip home should take about one hour, we choose the smaller roads instead of  the motorway and take a little look around a small corner of The Netherlands.

Avoiding the motorway means crossing rivers by car ferry  and waiting whilst bridges are raised to let water traffic pass…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Crossing  the River Lek from Nieuwpoort to Schoonhoven…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the following photo: this barge was so incredibly long that it wasn’t possible to get it all into one photo until it was quite a bit further down the river…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…And just in case you find yourself making a ferry crossing in The Netherlands one day, the sign translates as ” Wait with driving off , the middle lanes have priority” (upon departure).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 7, 2010

The car and the Veerpont… in search of a Castle

Filed under: THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have decided that we would like to make a family day out to a castle. We choose Slot Loevestein Castle and since Himself and I are known for being geographically challenged, we set the Sat.Nav. and headed out.

All goes perfectly until we reach the town of  Gorinchem,  located on the river  Waal.

Since I am occasionally teaching you a little Dutch, I need to tell you that no matter what you think the word “Gorinchem” looks like, or how it might sound, it is actually pronounced ” Hor-kem, except that the “H” is a mixture of  a “g” and an “h” sound.

I know, it’s not how it “looks” it should be pronounced, but trust me… it is.

We arrive on the banks of the Waal where there is a sign for a  ferry.

A  ferry, only for bicycles and pedestrians. Hmmm… this doesn’t seem right, we want to go Castle Loeverstein and certainly there is no castle on this side of the  river.

All the Sat. Nav. has to say about this, is the happy announcement of  ” You have reached your destination!

We shake our heads and assume that the stupid little machine has an even worse sense of direction than we do!

Since the next part involves the now irritating little machine persistently telling us to “ Turn around when possible” we turn the Sat. Nav. off, head towards the center of Gorinchem where I stop and ask a very friendly lady in a curtain shop for directions.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I tell her that we would like to go to Slot Loevestein Castle , that we are travelling by car and that the GPS is taking us to a ferry that doesn’t take cars.

She tells me  that the Castle is a bit further up river, and first thing we need to do is to get across the Waal.

We have three options… Option One: we can backtrack though town, down-river,  take the small roads out to the motorway that eventually leads to a very large bridge.

Option Two: we can go  up-river,  via a  small nearby street  and when the road bears left away from the river,  we follow it and that also eventually leads to a motorway and a large bridge some 15 kms or so up river.

Option Three, we take the same road as option Two, but when the road swings off to the left, we take the tiny road on the right, it hugs the river for the most part and is the scenic route. It goes past some charming little houses, dikes and a small fort and then ends abruptly at the river’s edge… where a little car ferry (Veerpont) goes back and forth across the river.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If we take the ferry we will only be a very short distance from Slot Loevestein Castle.

Motorway bridges or scenic route and a little car ferry: Tough choice no?  One that took a nano-second,  after all, we were on a family outing, somewhere  we didn’t know, and it was a little adventure, so naturally the Car ferry option won hands down.

Just as the lady said, we found the curve where the road veered to the left, could easily have missed the minuscule lane to the right if we hadn’t been armed with our local directions and began the wonderful meaner down the little road…

Suddenly we saw a sign, with a little boat on it, and a few corners further, the road ended at the waters edge. On the far side of the river the ferry was discharging it’s bicycle and car passengers and within minutes was heading back in our direction.

The river is busy with barges, small recreational craft, the sun is sparkling on the water…  as the ferry nears, the rear edge, raised as it traverses the water, starts to lower,  and within seconds has become a ramp for the vehicles to drive  on and off on.

We wait for cars to come off and then drive on… I have barely enough time to get out of the car  and put the camera onto video setting before a rumble of the motors tells we that we are about to move.

The back edge that was the ramp, now raises and we pull away from the shore. I’m filming and there appears a narrow strip of water between us and the land, and at the last second a car turns the corner… too late for this one as we are getting further out by the second, but it’s a very quick turn around and so at least they won’t have to wait long.

We chug firmly through the waters of the big river… and a few minutes later I’m back in the car, the barrier is being raised as the ramp on the other end is being lowered and we drive off with a small bump as we get back onto dry land.

Slot Loevestein Castle is on a spit of land just a few kilometres further. We leave the car in the car park and walk down a small lane to the Castle itself,  just outside the walls everything becomes suddenly clear…  a short distance away there is a large boat… the ramp is lowered to the jetty and a few foot passengers and cyclists are disembarking.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Needless to say this must be the end point of the ferry that the Sat. Nav. was trying so hard to take us to.  What a pity that neither it or the helpful lady actually bothered to tell us where that other ferry actually went!

Oh well, now you know, if you want to get to Slot Loevestein Castle,  I can recommend the options of two large motorway bridges or a sweet little car ferry … or just believe the Sat. Nav., park the car in Gorinchem and it will almost literally take you across the water to the  Castle door.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We learned something, here, I pass it on and you learn something too…  that’s what these little adventures are for…

.. and to probably remind us that we are indeed more stupid than the little Sat. Nav. Machine.

My apologies little Sat. Nav. you are not nearly as brainless as I said you were.

April 9, 2010

Sailing South into the Sunset…

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