The alarm woke us at 5:30am in order to catch the 8am ferry. Although we were only a few kilometres up the road we didn't want to risk being delayed in traffic and check in was at 7am so we left the house by 6am. We found the ferry office very easily, thanks to being directly taken by Chris and we checked in to find we were travelling with Interislander at 8:30am. We boarded our vessel with plenty of time to spare and were made to back into a corner - we weren't going to be first off at the other end!
We made our way up to the passenger deck and bought hot drinks and found some seats in one of the lounges. Dan couldn't help himself and left pretty swiftly to go and explore the sun deck on the top of the boat while I caught up on some more sleep until the boat left. For some reason we were over an hour late leaving (but at least it wasn't due to us!)
The ferry journey was mind blowing and it is very easy to understand why this is one of the best ferry rides in the world. We were very fortunate we had picked the clearest day we had seen in New Zealand so far and you could see for miles and miles. The South Island looked incredible with the blue sea against green vegetation and snowy capped mountains. I dread to think how many photos Dan took! I went up to the sun deck and took in the vistas from time to time but it was a bit chilly so I didn't spend every waking moment there unlike my other half! One thing we noticed was that all of the lifeboats had the name "Portsmouth" written on them, which we thought was a bit strange and figured there must be a Portsmouth in NZ, but then Dan saw an old P&O sign that said "The Pride of Cherbourg". This was also on one side of the boat, something else to remind us of home.
The last hour of the journey took us through the Marlborough Sounds and the scenery was just awesome, there are no words to describe how breath taking the South island looked, and it was incredibly plain to see just why everyone had advised us to spend more time here. Every time you looked in a different direction the view had changed again and I don't think you could ever get tired of this journey at all.
After two and a half hours we finally landed in Picton and eventually we were waved off the boat.We headed through the town and down the road to explore the East coast and find somewhere nice to stop for a late lunch. We stopped in Blenheim, where we topped up our groceries and fuel. We drove down to Lake Grassmere, a large lake which is fed by sea salt and then dried through the Spring and Summer in order to harvest 70'000 tonnes of salt. The lake was half empty when we drove past and not so scenic but it was cool to see how it is done. You could see huge mounds of salt in the works on one side of the lake. We turned off the main road here and drove around the Lake until we came to the sea and a spectacular beach , a good spot for lunch! We could see over to the North island and could just about make out where Wellington was and the harbour we sailed out of.
After lunch we headed back to the main road and travelled South a little further to a little village called Ward and once again headed towards the beach, which again was gorgeous, a little more rugged than the other one, with black sand and grass leading all the way up to the rocks on one side where the waves were crashing. We went for a little stroll and found some lovely shells, and a seal sunning himself on the rocks.
Back we headed towards Blenheim and through the other side to a place called Spring Creek, where Pete, Stu's brother was staying. We checked into a campsite close by and I rustled up a very yummy risotto (sorry Mum), with enough for two nights. We walked down the road to the pub where we met Pete for a couple of hours and caught up on what had happened over the last couple of weeks. It was great to see another familiar face and we had a great evening.