South Island to North Island
Our last day on the South Island! We left at 8:30 and spent 2 hours [10-12ish] in Nelson. Not much going on there, just a bunch of shops and cafes. I browsed a few and had a mochaccino. I’m definitely expanding my coffee pallette! Then 1/2 of our bus went to a bunch of different wineries on the way to the ferry, while the rest of us sat around in the heat waiting for them. Blah. Got some reading/writing done at least.
We got to the ferry terminal in Picton around 5 and said goodbye to Neil and the bus. Petra was the only one of us staying in Picton, so we parted ways. She was definitely cool, and spoke English really well. We also picked up a new girl at Abel Tasman who had done most of the tour but hopped off for a week to stay there longer, so she’s rejoining the tour.
So we took the 6:00 ferry to Wellington, which I was very much looking forward to. Except the seating wasn’t as cool as last time. There were a bunch of sheep in a huge box on the back of the ferry, kinda neat/funny to see. And I could feel the boat moving this time – not good. Ah well, more reading and writing done. Ate more lardy fish and chips, and a caramel brownie. After 3 hours of sailing, we arrived in Wellington at 9pm. A shuttle brought us to the YHA, which made me quite happy because I reallllllly didn’t want to stay at the noisy Base Backpackers. Plus, we’d seen the YHA a few weeks ago and it looked so nice. I was in a room with Dana, Anna, and the new girl Eleanor. The room had 2 bunkbeds and a bathroom and was very clean and modern-looking. Most of those who were continuing the tour went out with those who were leaving one last time… but as usual, I was tired and had no decent clothes to wear, so I stayed in and showered and read and went to bed. I slept so well that I didn’t even wake up when they came back – amazing! That bed was quite cozy too.
The next day I woke up at 8:15, packed up, and stashed my bag in a locker. I had nearly 4 hours to explore Wellington, which was great because I love this city! Except it was raining all morning. I bought a bag of muesli cereal [fruity oats] and got a Starbucks frapp for breakfast. I also called a hostel on Waiheke Island [off of Auckland] and was lucky enough to score a SINGLE there for 2 nights! Cheap too, only $38/night. Needless to say, I am quite excited for the white sand beaches and privacy! This tour has been amazing and I’ve met so many good people, but I’m a bit relieved that it’s nearly over. I need my own space, I need to have my belongings near me and not live out of a bag, I need to not spend hours on a bus each day, and I need to sleep in a bed! 4 weeks is a long time to camp with the same people and live out of a bag… but soon it’ll be back to being a lonely hermit in Sydney, at least until school starts.
Anyway… I walked all over Wellington, browsed some shops, etc. It rained all morning, no big deal when you’re shopping. I finally found a decent NZ shirt – a white Roxy tee with a NZ map on it in pink. Good tees are hard to come by here. I called home and finally got to talk to Dad, and I got a sandwich from Subway before meeting back at the YHA at 12:30. We were picked up by a new driver, Lisa, on the superior North Island bus. Her assistant was Nadine, a German girl. Lisa seemed very cool, very chill. There were only 11 people on the bus going back to Auckland – so weird! Mike decided to stay in Wellington with Sophie, who had been on our North Island bus earlier in the tour. Jason decided to go back to the South Island after 1 night in Wellington. It’s just so different now. Instead of having a bunch of over-excited newbies on the bus, it’s a bunch of jaded travelers who have been on the tour for nearly a month.
So we drove for about 5 hours today, stopping in Taranaki for dinner. I spotted a Chinese/fast food place and stocked up at a Chinese food buffet, and soon most of the group ended up doing the same. It actually filled me up fast. We set up camp at Onaero Bay [black sand beach] as it stopped raining – most of the group upgraded to cabins while 5 of us stayed in tents for some ‘extreme camping’, including me. Good thing the rain held up. I watched S2E1 of Lost in the kitchen lodge – yay tv. Oh yeah, as we were checking in, Neil showed up! So weird… supposedly he grew up around here? Also, on the way here, I saw the brightest and longest rainbow ever – so pretty!