Scenic routes always look like they will be pretty spectacular. And, quite frankly they usually are. When it's not storming or sea mist that is. On the way from Kaikoura to Picton I thought it would be a good idea to loop around the coast to the scenic route, rather than the boring straight road that went straight past. This was a good idea up until the sea fog crept in and we were winding our way for 42km if I remember correctly up this gravel path perilously close to the cliff edge!
Nevertheless we eventually got to Picton, a cute little harbour town on the north east coast of south island where the Wellington Ferries depart from. Actually the scenic route was good because it meant we could have a good old nose at all the mansions in the suburbs of the town. They were pretty awesome, I wouldn't mind living there myself when I win the lottery! Picton is settled in the midst of Queen Charlotte Sound, and the geoligists amoungst you will know that it's a similar layout to Milford Sound (just not as spectacular). We booked our ferry, hoarded in the choccys and spent the night back down the scenic route road (another oppotunity to look at those celebrity houses).
The ferry would take around 3 hours of winding between these mountains sticking up from the sea (they weren't snow capped this time) and then onto Wellington, NZ's capital. Reading through my trusty lonely planet guide Wellington is known as Windy Wellington by the locals. Yes. Oh yes Wellington is windy. If you were to go on a hot date then there would be no point in spending hours over perfecting your hair...it's not gunna stay put. And I dread to think how they cope in the summer with dresses...be like the marylin monroe sketch over the hot air grate every day. Boys wouldn't be complaining that's for sure!
Despite getting to Welly at around 5pm we didn't actually get to our campsite (or FIND our campsite I should say) until about 9pm that evening! In the end we had to stay at a holiday park because the first two campsites we tried to find on the map didn't actually exist anymore, and until we stopped by this lovely old couples house to ask directions did we find that out! Even so, a good nights sleep set us up to explore Wellington the next day. And explore it we did! 3 hours we spent winding our way through the cities streets and houses of parliament. We went on a looovely walk down the harbour wall and down the coastline a bit. Every other person was running so either Wellington is very active or we were just on a good running path, maybe a bit of both I say?
After our leggles were too tired to walk longer we headed back to Hugo to head over to Rivendell!!! Now I thought I was a Lord of the Rings nerd...Vikki, well, she was like a five year old on Christmas morning! Rivendell (or the place it was filmed) was nestled within a waterfall about 40 minutes north of Welly. We went on (another) long walky which included a swing bridge that i got very excited over. Simple minds simple pleasures they say. I even discovered that contrary to belief I am NOT as short as a hobbit. In fact I am as tall as GANDALF! Now there's a surprise for many of you!
Driving on from our Lord of the Rings experience we decided we might as well drive a way up to Napier as we still had quite a bit of the day left. That was the night we found ourselves in the company of Faulty, the 55 year old hillbilly that had been living in his self made house truck for 2 years, and at that campsite for 8 weeks with his two pooches Scruff and Fluff, oh and don't forget the chicken Lucky. Faulty had been at this campsite to keep holligans away - one of which had even tried to run him over! His story goes that he knew one of the boys fathers who lived on the east coast and used to play with the All Blacks (not someone you'd want to mess with) and told him to give his boy a seeing too. After that he hadn't seen a sign of them and that was 2 weeks back now.
A morning wake up from Lucky the chicken got Vick and I up and about. It was raining a bit of drizzle but nothing that would stop us going off and exploring. Faulty came over to the camper and asked if we wanted to go for a walk with him. After all we had no idea where we were going, and he knew the area like the back of his hand so we thought we might as well say yes. If he was going to kill us then he would have done it already!
In fact Faulty is a pretty interesting guy! Turns out he had ripped an artery going through his pelvis when he was making his truck and so he had to walk slow or he would collapse. He had also grown up on a 36000 hectar farm and so often decided to go and just camp out in the forest, hunt his dinner and make a campfire. Lucky we did go with him anyway or we wouldn't have got far. There was a river blocking both sides of the pathway (I say pathway it was more just a river bank) but he helped us cross as he knew the shallow parts! The dogs weren't too happy he didn't help them cross - they are only wee jack russels!
We went upstream till we couldn't get any further then turned back down the other way to help him find a stone he lost the other day (I guess being on your own for so long you do enjoy the weird things in life!). Finally we found it after about 20 minutes of looking. It was, after all the hype, a rock. It was browny whitey green. WOOOO! (no ounce of sarcasm there :P). He was very excited to also show us a fern. To me it looked like a fern but apparently it was a very big fern. So I made him happy by taking a picture (as I said, being on your lonesome in the wilderness can make you a bit odd). We trekked through the bush on the way back, only to come across an old army box (this is the time he told us that cannibis planters often set booby traps so nosey parkers can't nick it). Great. So we are in the middle of the bush, miles away from anywhere, with an explosives box that might be a boobey trap. The fact I am writing this means that that drama was ended swiftly. The box had a bit of a mould in and didn't smell funny so we moved on. Only to then come across an ex cannibis plot of land in the middle of the jungle. Apparently the guys who plant it clear the trees so the plant can flourish in the sun. This was the time when Faulty also told us his weed was medicinal...sure sure.