Sunset Sailing to the North Island

Today is bittersweet. Day 250 marks the day that we finish with our time on the South Island during this 365 Days: 365 Activities. It has been one hell of an adventure exploring as many nooks and crannies as possible in half a year doing some of the most insane and weirdest activities Kiwi land can offer. Like most people doing a gap year in New Zealand, our final day on the South Island is marked with taking the Interislander ferry between Picton and Wellington.

A relaxing day in Picton

Because we travelled across the Cook Strait just after sunrise to get to the South Island last time, we decide to treat ourselves to a sunset sailing to get back to the North Island. This means we have a whole day of, well, mostly relaxing in sunny Picton. Gary, our host at the Tombstone Backpackers, bakes up some mean scones for breakfast. Robin has five of them… Then after check-out we relax in the sun loungers watching earlier ferry sailings come in from the Tombstone’s hillside garden. It’s weird feeling leaving the South Island, a place with the most epic of mountains, fiords and wildlife. On the other hand, we still have 115 days left of this adventure on the North Island, including more of New Zealand’s cultural experiences, volcanic landscapes and warmer beaches. We’re excited for what’s to come and that’s a pretty good place to be.

So that we don’t burn to a crisp in that brutal New Zealand sun, we decide to do some work for the rest of the afternoon in the shade of the waterfront cafes. By the time 4.30pm comes round, two hours before our ferry sailing, we decide to go to the ferry check-in. We know, it’s early, but don’t worry, we have a plan…

Robin's hard at work for his last afternoon in the South Island Robin's hard at work for his last afternoon in the South Island
Our ferry approaching to Picton Our ferry approaching to Picton
Queuing in style! Queuing in style!
Awesome views for the start of our journey Awesome views for the start of our journey

Picnic in the ferry queue

The Interislander ferry terminal is well-signposted off Auckland Street, so we find the vehicle check-in line in no time. Once checked in, it’s just a matter of lining up in the designated row and waiting.

We park up and get speaking to a couple of Germans infront of us (of course the Germans made it here earlier than us) and we decide to have some dinner before boarding. With the picnic blanket set up on the tar-sealed road, we sit down and surround ourselves with bread, blue cheese, foie gras (Robin’s family has sent the “essential” supply from home, and some red wine we picked up in no other than the Marlborough wine region. Could this picnic be any more French?!

It sure feels like a civilised way of waiting for the ferry, except that we have no glasses so Laura has to drink the wine from the bottle… That kind of ruins the effect.

Sensational views of the Queen Charlotte Sound

Anyway, about one hour later, cars start moving. We are being directed into various lines to eventually go up a ramp and into the ferry. We’re shown where to park, then we have nothing more to do than enjoy the ride.

The Interislander ferry is huge! There are not enough people to occupy the seating areas, from cosy lounges to a bar with a view of the bow. But when making our way out of the Queen Charlotte Sound, there is only one place we want to be.

With multiple open viewing areas at the front, sides, back and upper levels, there is no excuse to miss the views of the forested mountains that appear to have just burst from the sea. What’s more, the layers of these mountains are made more dramatic from the shadows of the setting sun.

Cheers, South Island! Cheers, South Island!
What... a... sunset!! What... a... sunset!!
The last minutes of light The last minutes of light

Sailing to a stunning Sunset

For the last half an hour of sunlight, we relax at one of the outside tables with a couple of beverages in hand. The open decks at the back of the ferry are the best place to be to see the sunset. As the view of the South Island falls behind us, we see the last rays of sun dip behind the Kaikoura Ranges.

Sure, the sun may have set, but the show is not over with colourful displays cast across the sky. The pink and orange hues on the water look absolutely stunning. We have a hard time getting back inside when we have this beautiful sight before us. But once the heat of the sun stops warming us up, we are feeling too windswept to stay outside any longer.

Soaking up the views of the Queen Charlotte Sound

Hello, Wellington! Hello, North island!

The glimmering city lights reflecting on the water indicates that we are approaching Wellington – back to the city and back to the North Island! We have to say, doing a sunset sailing to get here really was a special way to do it.

An announcement echoing throughout the ferry initiates everyone to start making their way to their vehicles. Now, we can drive onto the North Island.

Checking in at Base

It’s about 10.30pm by the time we make it to our accommodation, Base Wellington. With the excessive amount of sea breeze we just experienced, there’s nothing more we want to do than just pass out in bed. (By being on the top floor, however, we get an awesome view of the city bustling below. We are definitely not on the South Island anymore).

So North Island, what do you have in-store for us tomorrow? Join us when take a hike in the Wellington regional park, Wainui Omata!

Laura and Robin

The perfect time to Leave the South Island
The perfect time to Leave the South Island Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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See you tomorrow!

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