Kia ora, Internet, today is Saturday, April 6th, and my six-month-iversary of arriving in New Zealand.
I am writing this on a bus between Picton and Nelson (complete with detour to Blenheim, the town in the middle of Marlborough wine country), in the north bit of South Island. It’s my consecutive “weekend away” – I took off from work at 1:30 yesterday afternoon, got on a ferry, and arrived in Picton just before dinner time.
Picton is – unsurprisingly – beautiful. I keep thinking that I’ll get used to New Zealand’s propensity to be picturesque, but so far, it still strikes me all the time. I mean, Stewart Island I knew would be beautiful. Its Maori name, Rakiura, means “land of the glowing skies”, in reference to the amazing sunsets. Also, it’s pretty much as far south as you can get, is famous for hosting an awesome (but still daunting) 14-day hike, and there are just tons and tons of sandy beaches.
Picton is famous for being where the ferry lands. It’s also, however, the launch-pad for trips to the Marlborough Sounds and yet another fantastic multi-day hike. And there are a brilliant-sounding tours (none of which I had any time to do in the 21 hours I spent there) where you can swim with dolphins and such.
I did get to go for a lovely hour-long hike in Victoria Domain (a big park encompassing most of a mountain and some beaches), which led to my taking a few dozen pictures of the bits of the Sounds you can see from Picton Harbour. You can see why you’d want to take a kayak around all the little islands.
And then, feeling virtuous for having walked up a giant hill, I took myself out to a very nice dinner, then retired to my hostel with some red wine – which I drank in a hot tub.
(While on Stewart Island, where I was hiking >15km/day, the only thing I really wished I had but didn’t was access to a bathtub… I don’t have one at home, either, which doesn’t matter almost ever, but it is nice to soak in hot water after having made your legs do crazy amounts of work so that you can see all the pretty sea-and-sky-scapes. So having a hot tub to soak in a week later is… almost as good. Drinking red wine in a hot tub and chatting with French/Swiss/German travellers is actually just awesome.)
OH! And I met a Canadian! (This is actually a really rare occurrence these days. When I first got here, people were like “Oh! You’re from Canada! You must meet xxxxx, s/he is Canadian TOO!” But that has since died out.)
Well, in this case, a woman about my mother’s age was helped into our room with her luggage, and as soon as the door was closed, she said “OK, which one of you is Canadian?” Apparently they had told her at check-in that there was another Canadian in her room and she was as excited as I was. She is from Saskatchewan, on her way to visit her daughter in Australia – but had to detour to NZ, because, obviously, it’s just a national magnetism.
OH – PAUSE – WE ARE IN BLENHEIM AND IT IS AWESOME.
We are currently driving through the Marlborough wine country, and it’s amazing how a) similar to each other; and b) pretty vineyards are. Like, if it weren’t for the volcanic mountains in the background, this could be Niagara Valley.
Ok, back on track now:
This morning, I lingered in bed – because Saturday – and then went to check out the 9th-oldest ship in the world, which was built in India in 1853 and is still… you know… boat-shaped and theoretically floatable. And I read a whole bunch about boat-building and was delighted to find that I actually knew most of the words the were using AND what those words meant: thank you, living in Newfoundland. OH, and there was this letter from my alma mater to the museum, indicating that, at some point, a bunch of documents had been photocopied, and the photocopies mailed to the other side of the world, for what can only be considered an extremely reasonable fee.
So, I very much enjoyed Picton (next time, I’ll give myself a whole day so I can do dolphins) and am looking forward to arriving in Nelson, where I have about 26 hours (improvement!) to go exploring/maybe do a day trip. I’m tempted to go visit some wineries, but I have to get home tomorrow evening for Vagina Monologues rehearsal and I can’t be, you know, drunk. And as much as wine tastings are not supposed to result in one’s getting drunk, that’s always been my experience of them. Alternatively, there are some great arts exhibits about, and I can probably have a glass of super-local wine over dinner. While I learn my lines. *cough*