Wednesday 10th November
Today was a travelling day. If life, or indeed this trip, is a series of bricks carefully assembled to form a wall, then today was the mortar necessary to hold it together - dull in places but essential and with a few surprising highlights!
In summary, we drove south to Wellington, took the ferry to Picton and then drove on west towards Nelson. And it rained all day...
The day actually started quite dramatically at about 2 am when we were both token by the motor home rocking violently in the wind. There was heavy rain beating against the roof and windows, and the wind was roaring and buffeting the van. When we parked on the gorge last night we had chose a spot clod to an oak tree, partly because it looked lovely, partly to obscure our presence from another van on the other side of the field, and partly to provide some shelter from the weather. Now we were both lying awake fretting over the same thought - 'What if the tree blows over and smashes into the van?!'
This thought woke us on and off until about 6am when we got up to resume our drive to Wellington.
The camp site, in daylight, was lovely. In a river gorge on a flat grassy meadow with mature trees, next to the pebbly stream bed, with a steep tree-covered cliff rising up from the opposite bank. The weather was so wet and Indy that we didn't even venture as far as the river and set off before 7am for Wellington.
We stopped for breakfast at a roadside pull in and arrived on the outskirts of Wellington in good time for the ferry.
We then had a frustrating and time consuming supermarket and house keeping session, almost getting most of the stuff we needed.
Arriving in Wellington there was still enough time to explore a little, although not as much as we had hoped/planned.
In the end, given the weather, I found hairdresser to tame my rather sea and salty mop of hair and Bill had s high speed tour of Wellington in search of running shoe laces....
Back in the ferry terminal we boarded alongside the tankers, lorries and double trailer road trains hauling timber, carefully manoeuvring their way onto the upper vehicle deck of the ferry.
We then waved goodbye to North Island spent a fairly cosy four hours watching the world sail past the window whilst we consulted our guide books for information to help us plan the next few days.
We had been warned to expect the arrival into Picton via the Marlborough Sounds and Queen Charlotte Sound to be very spectacular and worth being up on deck for.
Well we could see how picturesque it must have been, numerous tree covered islands, peninsulas, bays and inlets surrounded by sea, scattered over a vast area. If only the grey sky had been blue and the sea likewise....
After disembarkation we drove along the spectacular Queen Charlotte's Drive, a narrow winding road that follows the coast from Picton towards Nelson, passing a whole series of bays, sandy beaches and small marinas.
We drove through Havelock, past The Mussel Pot restaurant. Braked, did a U-turn and drove back. The place just looked so welcoming and interesting and we had both read glowing reports about it in our guide books. We both felt we need something to liven up a hitherto dreary day, and this looked just the place! It was busy and very friendly.
We ordered the Mussel Platter for two. This comprised:-
Mussel chowder, grilled mussels with parsley and breadcrumbs,
grilled mussels with chilli jam, mussel fritters with tartare sauce, steamed mussels with white wine and herbs, marinated mussels and smoked mussels. All washed down with a two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc - Duckhunter and Middle Earth. It was excellent and made an great supper. A very big and happy highlight in an otherwise rather humdrum day.
We drove on for a further hour and then settled in for the night in Cable Bay, just north of Nelson. We could hear the sea but couldn't see it in the dark, but were too sleepy to care - Bill from the long drive along narrow winding roads, and me from the sea sickness tablets which I had been fighting all day!