Our time in Christchurch had come to an end, it was time to leave the apartment, pack the car, and drive on up to Picton to catch the ferry home. The alarm was set to go off at 6.00am and after a shower, a cuppa, and a quick check to make sure that we hadn’t left anything behind, it was time to hit the road. As we left the city, it was a bit like rush hour in Wellington, with long streams of cars driving into Christchurch. With so many suburban houses damaged in the earthquakes, many homeowners now live in the large subdivisions which up sprung up some distance away. Our plan was to leave early, and stop for breakfast further along our way. The cafe we stopped at in Cheviot was a good choice, with a “Farmer’s Breakfast” for him, and Scrambled Eggs for her. There was a lovely old stone church across the street which caught my fancy.
It was about here that our plans fell in disarray when we received a couple of texts from the Interislander. The first text told us that the ferry we were booked on was having mechanical problems and was running late. Then we were told that our early afternoon sailing was cancelled and our booking had been transferred to the 7.00pm sailing – bother!! That will make us very late home indeed. But never mind, at least we were fully informed and could now just take our time.
Driving through Kaikoura we caught glimpse of snow covered mountains so out came my camera. Robin commented that I seem to have a “bit of a thing” for such scenes. He’s right, there’s something about such grandeur that really leaves me breathless.
Then we drove back through the small one way tunnels cut into the rock. There are two sets of these tunnels quite close together along this road.
As we had plenty of time to kill, we decided to have another stop at Ohau Stream to see if the pool was full of baby seals this time around. But no, we were disappointed again, there was only one lone sea pup swimming all by himself in the pool. Around and around he frolicked enjoying himself just under the waterfall. It was not easy to get a good photo at all with the poor light and the continual movement.
The bus load of noisy young female tourists squealing in delight didn’t seem to upset the baby at all, he just kept on playing before hauling himself up onto a rock. There he struck poses this way and that as the cameras went clicked merrily away and the girls talked baby talk to the seal pup.
Then as we walked back down the track we were treated to the sight of two seal pups playing in the stream, and wondered if these were the same two we had seen a week earlier. They were certainly having fun in the water, and then decided it was time to go. They showed us how to do rock hopping as they made their way down stream. They followed the stream through the culvert under the road and we spotted them again on the rocky beach.
And there they are moving down to the sea across the rocks. Perhaps it’s meal time and they are waiting for their Mums to return.
View of the coast
We continued our journey and arrived in Picton, where we had hours to spare before our ferry was leaving. So we enjoyed the sunshine and the views down at the marina as we whiled away the time. There was lots of serious money tied up here, we thought. It was such a nice calm day there was no concern that we would get a repeat of the rough trip we had coming over Cook Strait a week ago.
Down at the marina
At last it was time to go and park up in the check-in area with the other cars, vans and motor-homes. As usual, the railway wagons and trucks were loaded first, and then finally, it was our turn.
The Aratere (meaning Quickpath) got away at 7.00pm. This ship is a version of a “stretched limo”, as it underwent a $52 million refit at the Sembawang shipyard in Singapore in 2011. The ship was lengthened by cutting it in half to insert a new 30-metre (98 ft 5.1 in) midsection, and a new bow and stern. All this work increased her capacity from 360 to 600 passengers. Isn’t that amazing!
We arrived in Wellington at 9.45pm, and started the long drive up SH1, finally arriving home at 11.30pm. It had been a long day, and we were exhausted, so the car was quickly unpacked, and we tumbled into bed. I think we were suffering from “boat-lag”.