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New Zealand Trip Day 13 – Picton to Masterton

100320 Picton to Masterton

Spent the night in Picton at “The Atlantis” backpackers. For those of you who are not familiar with backpackers, they are what some might call “youth hostels”. They tend to be designed for people travelling on the cheap, maybe camping or, well, backpacking around the country and are just looking for a bed, a shower, and a place to cook their own food so they don’t have to pay restaurant prices.

The rooms tend to be either dormitory style with bunk beds lining the room, or semi-private rooms with bunkbeds and maybe a double bed.

They are all old and on the downhill side of their lifespan.

The Atlantis was cheap and the closest walking distance to the ferry to the North Island – not that we were walking, but that meant it was filled with “kids” (re. people the same age as Brenda and I were when we first hitchhiked around N.Z. with no more than 2 nickels to rub together).

When we walked through the busy kitchen with kids frying up vegetables and what-have-you we were either ignored because people our age are invisible to the youth of today, or we were gawked at because what on Earth were we doing there? You could see thought bubbles pop up on the kids sentient enough to see us reading “My God, I hope I’m not staying in a place like this when I’m that old.”

It didn’t bother me a bit. Sadly this is one of the few places we stayed at that Brenda did not get a photo of.

But I got some sleep, it wasn’t too rowdy, and managed to get a shower in the co-ed bathrooms down the hall, through that door, and around the corner to the right.

The shower took place shortly after the alarm went off at 4:30am. Bear in mind we had been getting up at the very leisurely time of 7:30am to whenever.

But we had to have the van at the ferry by 5:30am for the 6:30am three hour ride to
Wellington on the North Island.

Outside looked like this:

And here is the schematic of the ship:

The boat ride was pretty cool. For $12.50 – about the normal price we’ve been paying – they serve a breakfast of watery scrambled eggs, hash browns, nasty sausages, bacon, fried tomatoes and toast. Filling but the quality was like dorm food.

I then spent the rest of the ride frantically trying to catch up on the blogging – which I just did in time to shut down the computer and run down and get in our van, Brenda and Jean having gone down there some time earlier.

Making it to the North Island marks a definite sea change in the trip. Gone are the dramatic scenery of the South Island and since I’ve been to most places on the North Island it’s more about visiting family and friends – not that we didn’t visit quite a few friends in the South.

But definitely the South is almost all tourism with the sparsely traveled roads being inhabited mostly by caravans and campers and vehicles obviously rented by tourists, whereas the North Island has traffic and is the place where three out four kiwis live.

We landed in Wellington still in the morning and looked for a place for a cup of coffee and walked along Oriental Bay:

Wellington is the national capitol and we just happened to drive by “the Beehive” which is one of the parliament buildings:

Our intention was to get Martinborough, which is known as a hoidy-toidy wine region. They were having a famous outdoor wine and arts festival there. To get to that region from Wellington you have to go over “The Hill”.

The South Island has plenty of windy roads, but this was perhaps the windiest one we’d been on and there are people who commute over it every day!

We finally located the festival only to find out from the parking security guy that you had to have pre-bought your tickets, no tickets at the door. No problem, we’ll just pull in and turn around.

The ladies taking the tickets waved us in and we explained we didn’t have tickets and they said, “Oh. Well…We could probably do two of you, but not three.” No problem, we’ll just turn around.

But that left me completely puzzled. How could they have this big outdoor venue and be able to have room for two more but oh, three was a deal breaker? Bizarre.

We drove off for some local wine tasting got Jean and Brenda as I was tired and not in the mood for wine. Brenda managed to buy something at nearly every place.

We also went out to look at this “Stonehenge” thing a local farmer built, but decide to not go on the tour because it was a bit expensive to just gawk at the concrete blocks this bloke arranged in his backyard and listen to him ramble on about God-Knows-What.

On our way back into Martinborough I spotted a local rugby match going on so I suggested we stop and watch.

The local team was destroying the fellow in blue. It was 41 to 7 when we got there and the defeated team was well spent. But we got to see a few touchdowns and some good hits in the ten or so minutes left in the game while we were there. Here you can see the dispirited lads trying to catch their wind:


I’ve been on both sides of that sort of deal in American Football, so I knew how they felt.

Finally we ended up at one of Brenda’s university friends, Steve Hornby. They have a bed-and-breakfast just outside of Masterton Brenda didn’t take any photos of that today but I’ll tell you of the amazing place tomorrow.

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