Wednesday, October 9, 2013

By Rail, By Sea, By Air: Our Trip to the South Island

It works out well, that during what is equivalent of a semester away from Aspen school, we have two terms at Rototuna Primary, with a two week school holiday beginning late September. We made the most of this break to take a trip from the North Island to the South Island, where much of New Zealand's most majestic scenery is. It is also where I have a scattering of cousins who I hadn't seen in a pretty long time.

I decided to take the train from Hamilton to Wellington, at the southern end of the North Island, catch the Interislander Ferry to Picton, and from there pick up a rental car to use in the South Island.

The kids were super excited about both the train and the boat!

We left Hamilton at 10:15 Thursday morning, by train. The Hamilton train station is completely nondescript, fortunately the trains make up for that!

The trains are very comfy - flash, you might say. We had a booth with a table so we could do puzzle books, as well as eat lunch on the train. Carson took over the maze book for a good hour, while the girls worked on brain teasers, and a 'Where's Waldo' - Angry Birds-style, book, as we railed our way through the grassy green Waikato. Of course there was some iPad time too, sooooo good for a 9 hour trip. I played 'Ticket To Ride' on mine of course....

The train has an open air carriage at the very front, it has a roof but no windows. We went up there as we passed by the central North Island where we got a nice shot of Mt Ruapehu.

 

The train only makes a few stops along the way, and we arrived into downtown Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, around 7PM. Took a short taxi to a hotel for our overnight stay.

On Friday morning we had a early start to the day as we checked in to the Ferry by 7:15AM.

Ready to board.

It was a wonderful surprise to wake up to a mostly sunny day for our Cook Strait crossing, it always make the journey better to have a beautiful day and not rough seasick-inducing seas. You just can never know what the weather might do at this time of the year - we lucked out. The crossing takes about 3 and a half hours, and the ferry carries both pedestrian travelers and those with cars. The ferry is ten decks high, and two are for vehicles. It has two cafes, a bar, and different seating areas in lounges as well as outside on the top deck.

We weren't able to get pictures of them, but the kids saw dolphins on two occasions, a highlight indeed. When I was a kid we would do the ferry trip about every other year, to visit our Grandparents and other rellies in Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island. Coming into the Marlborough Sounds is always my favorite part, with the land quite close on both sides of the boat.

Seeing the snow-capped Kaikoura Coast mountains rising from the Pacific Ocean is quite magical too.

Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough.

Delaney enjoying the window seat.

Carson with our destination in sight - Picton.

Our Ferry, the Kaitaki, in dock at Picton. From here we picked up a rental car, fantastically equipped with a USB connection might I add, and journeyed 5 hours south to Christchurch.

I think, 'by air ' deserves a post of it's own, so watch this space.