Across the Cook Strait

Monday, 15-09-2014. Day 26.

Mis-Bookings and Expensive Ferries

We enjoyed a home-cooked breakfast at Jon & Tanya's home, then, after saying our good-byes and thank-yous, they went off to work and school, and we fired up the Behemoth to perform a 3-point turn on a residential street (fun!).

I haven't yet talked about the rear-view camera of the Behemoth. This is the view I have when backing up:

That blue dot is where previous renters have mashed the heck out of the touchscreen.

That blue dot is where previous renters have mashed the heck out of the touchscreen.

After successfully negotiating a series of residential streets, we drove into Wellington and parked in a public parking spot near Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, which was something we wanted to check out in the shot time we had left on the North Island.

Te Papa is really a great museum. It offers free admission and has a lot of information about New Zealand: history, culture, geography (great earthquake exhibit), and flora and fauna. We spent a few hours exploring the exhibits before we had to get back into the camper and drive a few kilometers to the Interislander Ferry.

We're on a Boat!

The Interislander, ready to depart.

The Interislander, ready to depart.

This is the one portion of the trip that Samantha didn't book herself—and, well, it was booked wrong. Our ferry crossing was booked through the camper van rental company (it was a package deal sort of thing), and, instead of being booked for September 15th (the day we'd be crossing), it had been booked for August 15th (before we even left the U.S.). This meant we'd missed the spot that we'd paid about $500 for in advance by 30 days.

interislander-access.jpg

But, in stroke of good fortune, the gate agent let us on the ferry anyway, which was right swell of him.

"I don't want to ruin your holiday. I'm doing it for the kids."

Then we lined up with all the other cars and vans and got ready for the go signal to drive onto the ferry. There were a lot of vehicles and, because we had a giant camper van, we got on near the end. The whole process was very efficient and, once the traffic started moving, took us less than 15 minutes.

Onto the ferry.

Onto the ferry.

The ferry takes all traffic going between the New Zealand islands, and that includes a lot of big trucks. Those get on first and are secured in place by huge chains.

ferry-big-rigs.jpg

Once we parked and left the behemoth with its fellow vehicles, we climbed up to level four, where there was plenty of seating. Despite the expense of the ticket, nothing is included on the ferry. There's a cart that comes around with pastries ($3.00 each), a restaurant, bar (with booze and coffee), a gift shop, and they show a movie (that costs extra, too). There's even a small games room but many of the games were not working, much to the kids' disappointment (but this helped the overall health of my wallet).

Just another mode of transportation for the globetrotting family.

Just another mode of transportation for the globetrotting family.

Perhaps the most expensive service on the boat is Internet access. The Interislander offers wi-fi, so we thought this would be a good time to catch up on some Internetting. So we paid $4 each for a whopping 40Mb of data (which isn't a heck of a lot), and it was super slow. We had better luck with our T-Mobile 3G connections.

across-cook-strait.jpg

The boat ride across the Cook Strait was three and a half hours in total, and it went pretty fast. Soon enough, we got the announcement that we were approaching Picton. Everyone moved to their cars and drove off the ferry in an nice orderly fashion. It was 5:30 when we landed, so we headed over to the Picton Top 10 Holiday Park and set up camp.

Of course there was a cat.

picton-top-10-cat.jpg


Notable Statistics

  • Kilometers driven: 8
  • Kilometers traveled by boat: 92
  • Hours on a boat: 3.5
  • Overpriced Megabytes of Internet used: 80

is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. He also drinks coffee.

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Across the Cook Strait
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