New Zealand Diaries #15 (Courtesy Laura McCullough)

New Zealand part 13: Back to North Island

10 Jan. We wake up in our gorgeous suite, sun is out, birds are singing, little cherubs flitting about. Well, maybe not all of that. We have requested breakfast at 08:30, and we head down to the grand ballroom to see what we’ll get. There is a table set for 6, one couple is already eating at one end. They are Dutch, and quietly talk between themselves. The table is set with fine china, a cup of freshly-cut fruit is in a bowl on a china charger. Jenny brings Kelly black tea and myself some chamomile tea (I learned to request herbal pronounced with an h). She says she’ll get us some toast, and I mention I am gluten-intolerant. She just smiles and says she’ll bring me GF toast. Glee!

I eat tasty multigrain toast, one piece with the apricot jam, the other piece with blackcurrant?raspberry? jam. Yum yum yum. She then offers us herbed cheese scrambled eggs, and we can’t resist that! There is also a set of containers on the table with muesli and cereal. The eggs are great, and the setting can’t be beat. Morning sun coming into a grand ballroom with tall ceilings, beautiful woodwork, asian art, nice china, good food….Aaaah. We suggest Warwick House for anyone traveling near Nelson.

Another couple arrives as we are drinking our tea: from Missouri! Our host Nick also shows up in board shorts and a surf shirt, chatting away about Abel Tasman Park. We waddle back up to our room and pack up. We have a 14:00 ferry to catch, and at least two hours of driving. The drive from Nelson to Picton was pleasant, mostly lowlands. More wineries to drive past, the land growing more arid. We get to Picton around noon and turn in our rental car. The Hertz clerk is wonderful and notices that back in Welly we are scheduled to pick up the other car at the airport. He calls the Welly ferry terminal desk and gets our reservation changed to the ferry terminal, saving us at least an hour. Good customer service!

We check in, check our bags again (hmph). There is a gift shop in the waiting area, of course. We’ve seen a lot of gift shops but little has appealed to us as really saying “New Zealand”. It appears we needed to wait for this one! The Picton ferry terminal gift shop rocks! We bought about ten things here, gifts for others and a few things for ourselves. Including a pair of earrings for Kelly–he is extremely susceptible to sparkly earrings. Pack things up in our little carry-on bag, and then back on to the ferry!

We know to go to level eight, and it’s less crowded this time. We get a nice seat next to the window where we shouldn’t have the sun shining on us. Another smooth crossing, with just a little more motion this time. We cross the “rip” where two currents meet and it’s a smallish area full of whitecaps and lots of water motion. There is a school group nearby us; the two chaperones tell the students to drop their bags and wander around. The kids sunscreen up and head to the sun deck. By the end of the three-hour trip many were asleep at the tables. We chat with the chaperones: a professor and associate provost from Pacific Lutheran University in Washington State. Children’s lit and education literacy course.

Once we dock at Wellington, we get a car, only 5 people in line this time! Kelly goes for the baggage while I get the car; we can learn. The woman behind me is American and an SFF reader. She’s on our flight home, but in the sleeper seats up front. Lucky!

Into the car, we decide that Palmerston North looks like a good stopping point. Kelly books a hotel online and we drive a reasonably short hour or so. Our rest for the night is at the Coachman, a hotel with some character. We eat dinner at the associated restaurant, sitting on the patio. We get scallops as an appetizer: good, but they include the really fishy pink part. Then Kelly tries the “crispy duck” entree and I have a butternut “pumpkin” risotto. Great food. Collapse in our room for a long night’s rest.

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I’ve been traveling in Hawaii and New Zealand and will be posting links to the pictures soon.

Whenever we travel my wife does a travel diary while I take most of the pictures. I use her notes as my references for later use for books and other things. She has been gracious enough to allow me to share them here on my site for those who are interested.