– MARCH 05, 2015
Today marks a big day in the New Zealand travel adventures…we move on from the North Island to the South Island! We had a campsite manager inform us that we needed to book the ferry ticket in advance or we could sit there all day long to catch the ferry. You see, its a 3 hour ride and they schedule departures 4 hours apart…so if you don’t pre-book then expect a long day of waiting.
If you have ever rode the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry in BC, then you know how an organized ferry ticket purchase, boarding, and ride can be. Trust us…you know. In New Zealand, not so much.
You arrive and see a sign that says “Vehicle Check-In”…so you drive down that lane. You wait 20 minutes, as there are only two lanes and of course one is closed for a coffee break. So all traffic has to merge into one lane. Then you arrive at the ticket window for your turn, and if you have a reservation then congrats! But if you don’t, then this is not the lane for you. Fortunately we had a reservation, so we proceeded to lane 3.
In lane 3 I got out and took the photo below…it was 7:30am and this show really captured the beauty of the morning sky in New Zealand. That was our ferry boat as well.
So the 7:30am arrival was just in case you had a reservation (and god knows where those other people went). The ferry did not depart until 8:30am, so we chilled in the car. When we got the wave we drove forward past the end of our lane, but new pylons created a new line about 20 feet from the ferry car entrance. Then some guy walked up to the cars and asked them to show their tickets to prove they paid for the ferry ride. Now what you don’t know is that we have ocean on our left side, a train on the right side, the ticket booth behind us, and a ferry infront of us. How we could have managed to crash this party without a ticket is beyond me, but this second layer of Get Smart top notch security was there anyhow. So we showed them our ticket and he let us pass onward.
Once we drove onto the ferry boat we were instructed to drive up a 45 degree metal ramp and then stop mid way. This was where they wanted us to park…on a 45 degree slope. Well it was 7:30am anyhow, so I planned to sleep on the boat like the old Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay trip days. So we settled in and got ourselves comfortable as Jill checked Facebook on her phone. Then I heard a “hey!” and I looked up to see a lady with a smile and a pointed finger to a stairwell. I exited the car and walked up to her saying “its okay, we plan to stay with the car for the first bit“…she replied “no sir, you cannot stay with the cars here. You must leave now so we can lift the ramp and park cars under your level.” Yup…we were the mezzanine level it seemed. They rushed us, and of course we were not prepared for this so we grabbed any stuff within our reach and moved on two levels up. We forgot water and food back in the car in our haste.
I miss you Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry ride.
They then lifted the ramp to be horizontal, then parked cars under us. We went to level 8 and had breakfast while they continued to load cars. It took them another hour to keep loading cars in this unorganized fashion (perhaps its idiots like me that caused the delays…but I believe they should review the efficiency of the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay ferry loading/ride/unloading procedures).
We didn’t have our cameras so we couldn’t photograph this system…you just have to believe it.
The ferry ride itself was quite excellent. Big schools of jelly fish right beside the boat, while we navigated around islands. Cool scenery and some very relaxing seating options. This part was top notch for sure.
When we docked at Picton on the South Island, we drove on for another 2.5 hours (back in Saskatchewan we measure where we go by hours, not by distance…deal with it peeps) and stopped at the Department of Conservation campsite of Kerr Bay by Lake Rotoiti. See the picture below…it was beautiful.
There were many ducks here and the campsite was preparing for a big weekend boat festival. We stayed one night only, but I know Brenda DeJong would have loved the display of boats that were coming in as we left the next morning. We then drove another 6 hours today to reach the town of Franz Josef (insert “Pumping up with Hans and Franz” joke here you SNL fans!). But more on Franz Josef in the next post, as this is the home of a glacier hike.
Onto a new note with a general observation, it seems New Zealand likes to make two lane highways (one lane for each driving direction…excellent), but they only like to build bridges that are one lane. Yes, one lane bridges on highways. Now this is not always the case, but take a look below for some examples of one lane bridges where one side has to yield and the other drives…and we all hope nobody crashes!
Take care people…the next 14 days will contain some pretty crazy sh*t.
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.