We woke up at 6am to go catch the InterIslander to Picton.
The ferry is a well-oiled machine.
Cars, well, I don’t know where they go. People with rental cars drop off the cars (they will pick up a new, similar car on the other end, so that carbon is not needlessly spewed into the air from the cars being shuttled from the North Island to the South Island and back again), check in, check in their bags, and get on board, and I assume passengers with no type of cars just check their bags and get on. They have 10 decks, with a toddler area (a TV, a chalkboard, and some arcade games), a playground (we didn’t use this because I think you have to pay extra, and Kiddo doesn’t like busy playgrounds too much), a cinema, a café, a bar, a restaurant, and lots and lots of seating.
We sat by the TV in the toddler area. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse came on at some point and that bought us a few minutes of chill time. Otherwise, we watched the ocean, walked around, walked upstairs and downstairs and back again, went pee, washed our hands, watched the other kids, ate some really expensive eggs on toast, ate chips, colored with our crayons, played with the plastic animals, and drew with chalk on the chalkboard. It was like being on the biggest, most comfortable plane in the world.
I think the best part was that we covered a lot of ground without having Kiddo use up her “car time”. This is an intangible good. She can manage 2 hour of car time just fine. Three hours can be okay on a good day. The total time we have managed is 5.5 hours total in a day, including her whole nap in the car, and a few substantial stops. So, we didn’t use up any of this because she was free to run around for the 4.5 hours we were on the ferry.
When we arrived in Picton, the car pick up was smooth. In fact, we were given a brand new car. It only had 30km on it. It was so fun! How often do you get that experience! We proceeded according to plan, which meant we were off to taste wines in Blenheim, the heart of the Marlborough wine district. (Here is where I mention that I already wrote this post once, outlining the wineries we went to and everything, and then I forgot to save when I was ousted from my writings by a kid who needed her mama, and my Mac didn’t autosave because it is chock full of my iPhone photos and videos from this trip. So…I am going to be brief because I cannot be arsed to look up everything again with the slow internet in this otherwise lovely country!) We went to Unison winery, which had a playground. It was fun, though the wines were not amazing. Then we went to Fromm, which was awesome. The lady at the tasting counter knew a lot and we chatted for awhile. She gave some suggestions for other wineries. We went to Ash Ridge, where the farmer staffed the tasting counter, and we had a nice chat, and to Salvare, where they had a wine slushy that we turned up our noses to until we tasted it. It was pretty amazing, actually. No, really! As a dessert though, not as a drink! We went to Te Whera Ra Winery, which was really good. Kiddo had fallen asleep so I stayed in the car with her.
Then to take advantage of Kiddo´s sleeping status, we hit the road down to Kaikoura. This was fine except that we had planned on catching lunch in Blenheim and didn’t have any food in the car. So we planned to stop on the way, but there was nothing. So, we arrived in Kaikoura pretty hungry, and by the time we checked into our motel, I was stark raving mad hungry. We got some recommendations from the owner about fish and chips, because the town was supposed to be great for seafood, but we didn’t feel like a fancy meal. We ended up at The Continental, a dismal spot with greasy food and sticky chairs. It was fine. We were less than impressed with Kaikoura, but, I suppose if you stayed a few days you would have fun doing whale watching and seal watching and similar things. We were ready to hit the road the next morning bright and early though. There were better things that awaited us on the South Island.