You think by now we might be getting bored of endless sunshine and beautiful scenery, not a chance. We tore ourselves away from one beach in search of another as we drown down from Takaka to Picton from where we'd be getting the ferry to North Island in a couple of days. Queen Charlotte Drive is one of NZ's famous scenic routes, another one thats great to be a passenger for. That night we found ourselves a cosy Indian restaurant for dinner (even in the smallest of towns theres always a tasty Indian to be had). The next day we planned to hire kayaks to see some of the Marlborough Sounds.
That didnt quite go to plan! Seems you can't roll out of bed at 10am on Good Friday and hire anything as the locals had them all booked out, bummer. Never o ne's to take defeat lying down we set off to get down to one of those tiny deserted beaches that we saw from above the day before. I think it was called Fishermans Bay and it was stunning, the beach couldnt have been more than 80m long and the water was a beautiful turquoise colour. That was pretty alluring and thankfully the clearness of the water meant the noticed the huge jellyfish floating a few metres away from us.
It may seem like we have very little to report in the way of activities but South Island is all about scenery, mountains to walk in, lakes to swim in and beaches to lie on. It makes for such a relaxed and enjoyable lifestyle as well as being quite awe inspiring. It has to be said though that the weather has helped in a big way - I don't think we'd have had anywhere near as much fun had it been raining.
The next day was the start of a new adventure - we headed to North Island on the ferry. This had been booked for a week or so and we had the option of upgrading to Club Class for mere $20 extra (about 8pounds). Sorely in need of our first bit of luxuty since Jaisalmer we duely obliged and after driving on to the ferry we made our way to the empty Club Class lounge, helped ourselves to coffee, juice and biscuits and waited for the room to fill up. It didn't. In fact nobody else came in and we found ourselves alone in a rather large and plush room; for all we knew the boat could have been empty. Nat enjoyed the free magazines whilst I turned a nice shade of green and prayed the journey would end soon, god help me in the Galapagos. Before we left the ferry the staff made sure we filled our bag with free coffee sachets and packets of cookies, we've still got loads left!
Safely (and queasily) in Wellington we met up with Mick from Uni at a campsite outside the city. After not seeing each other for a good few months Nat and Mick set about talking excitedly in some broad Mancuniun that I didn't have a chance of understanding. I think the gist was that they were happy to see each other. Mick and his friend Nick definitely weren't campers and we began to feel a little too organised when confronted with these fresh faced camping virgins.
After picking up some beers and pizzas and being outraged by Domino's 'chicken surcharge' (i mean come on, we might be pretty isolated but a chicken surcharge??!!) we spent the evening trading stories in the camp dining room. It just so happened that we were in Wellington for 'Rock to Wellington' weekend, an excuse for the aged rockers of New Zealand and their children to descend on the capital to see the delights of Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss. After the show a load of kids ended up in the dining room and after a few too many energy drinks they set about beating each other up and blasting rock anthems out of the tv. By now it was past midnight and if theres one thing campers dont like its noise past bedtime. Enter the park security guard and his dog. Now, in any other situation this could be quite intimidating but not today. The guard looked like he was fresh out of a pie eating contest and his dog was visibly shaking at the idea of confrontation. What made it worse for the guard was that whilst he was shouting at the kids his dog was lapping up Nick's strokes and wasn't the slightest bit interested in being threatening. I think they both needed a new career.
Easter Sunday is probably the 2nd worst day of the year to visit a capital city, everywhere in Wellington was closed except for the national museum and although it was a good museum we were all a bit weary from the night before. You can't even buy beers here on Easter Sunday unless you're buying a meal. Don't get me wrong this is a beautiful country but a lot of the customs are pretty backward.
Anyway, the next day after saying our goodbyes to Mick and Nick we headed up to Taupo about 3 hours away. The distinction in scenery was obvious from the start, North Island is much more agricultural and as a result the scenery looks very similar to that back home (with the exception of the occasional big volcano!) Taupo itself was really nice though. We stayed in the best park yet, thermally heated swimming pool and jacuzzi - we even managed a couple of hours of tennis, our our particularly embarrassing attempt at tennis. That day we took a walk down the Huka Falls track to take in some scenery, the river was crystal clear and made better by the thermal stream running into it where you can sit in natural pools heated from the ground (well, if you remembered your swimming stuff). The island had some way to go to live up to expectations but it was a good start