It is a short drive from Blenheim to Picton and the ferry for the North Island. Our booking on the Interislander Kaitaki for a 1.45pm sailing suited us perfectly. It cost a little more ($263) than if we had booked further in advance but we didn’t want to commit ourselves while not knowing how long we might stay in the South Island. Boarding the car ferry is an interesting experience. Last time was more years ago than I’m willing to admit. We arrived earlier than the prescribed time and joined one other car in the queue of what I guess were middle-sized cars. Over the next ninety minutes or so, cars of every shape and size formed behind and in other queues alongside us. I believe the temperature must have reached thirty degrees while we waited.
A large rotating sign above advised all the relevant information, what we could take on board, safety tips etc and most importantly, notification that being first in line (or second in our case) did not mean first to board. We were in queue No. 2. We watched queue No.1 drive on with relief to know we’d soon be out of the burning sun. Great, we were in the next to best queue. No, wrong. No. 1 queue was followed by No. 3. Then about a hundred (I’m not exaggerating) camper vans arrived from I think queue No.7 or 8. Then vehicles in queues 4 to 9 drove on, interspersed with more from queue 3 as late comers arrived. Queue No. 2 watched. Every vehicle in the yard – I assume every vehicle travelling to Wellington that day – boarded the ferry before queue 2 finally got waved on board. The sign had been warning us. Don’t assume the early bird catches this worm.
Travelling out of the Sounds was amazing. With only a little breeze the sea was like glass. Again I ended up with a little sign on my camera warning I’d run out of memory on my card.
Even as we reached the exit from the Tory Channel the sea was still calm and the sky blue.
But funnily enough, when I wandered forward to take photos of the approaching North Island, all there was to see was a low bank of heavy cloud. Perhaps our weeks of blissful summer weather were at an end.