This is my 100th post, and as a little celebration, I take you not to the air but to the sea….
I sometimes get motion sickness, though never on a plane! But usually in a car or most commonly on a ship. Seasickness creates awful nausea for myself. The word nausea stems from Greek with the word ‘naus’ meaning ship and the word ‘nautia’ meaning feeling sick or queasy. Nausea – ship queasy …? (I can see the dad In My Big Fat Greek Wedding agreeing with me now 🙂 Give me a word and I will show you its Greek roots )
Ok so I’m not in Greece, but New Zealand and I am about to board the largest of the 3 Interislander ships that are the bridge between the North and South Island of this country. I was a little nervous that the ‘ship queasy’ may affect me but I was stlll on a high from my Soundsair flight from Wellington to Picton with a smile on my face. So here I was about to board the ship from Picton and cross the Tasman Strait by the M.V. Kaitaki.
Before I checked in I spent a few hours in the port town of Picton. This is the most northern port of where the South Islands railway ends and where the ships take over heading to the North Island. Its a small tourist town, both the on and off point for travellers coming to or leaving from the South Island, full of quaint museums, fancy boutiques, flashy pubs, cafes and takeaways which cater for the tourist and the small local population.
The locals are friendly but sometimes reserved, as I encountered when I sat down for lunch at a little fish and chip shop in the centre of town. As the only person in the takeaway and with two sets of tables and chairs out the front I placed my order of fish and chips and was given a number, number 002. I sat down at one of the tables and waited for my order with my laptop open until it was called. When it was, I went to the counter and was handed the lunch, but quickly it was snapped back with a glare asking “where is your number? I need your number!” …. Number 002, I think the second order of the day and the only person in the place….really?
My next encounter with a local was delightful. Friendly, chatty and a we had good giggle about greying hair when a local and the shop assistant insisted I the “young fellow” go first through the checkout with my bottle of water. “Thank you, and thank you for calling me young with this colour hair!” I quipped before we all were chatting about the town, the people, our hair colour and travel. Quirky Picton.
Its a short walk from the centre of town through parks and railway sidings where the Coastal Pacific train from Christchurch and many goods trains end their journey to the Interislander check in office. My check-in lady was both welcoming and informative.
Boarding was made via the rear of the ship which was fine on this lovely sunny day, however the walk, about 100 metres in all, might not be so much fun on a wet day. As I walked onboard I asked a crew member “Have you worked on this boat long mate?” “I’ve worked on this SHIP a couple of years now bro, on this SHIP,” he said with a smile. Oh dear, I made that terrible mistake of calling a ship a boat. I know thats a no-no, especially to crew. So, what makes a water going vessel a ship and upgrades it from a boat? Simply the fact that it can carry another boat on it. I was about to board the M.V Kaitaki, which in Maori language means ‘Challenger’, a 17,000 tonne vessel which can carry 1650 passengers and up to 550 cars, to travel the 50 nautical miles (93 kilometres) between Picton and Wellington taking about 3.5 hrs, with several life’boats’ on it, I was clearly on a ship.
The first place I made my way to was the shop on deck 7, located near the family area and childrens facilities. It was a fabulous place for those with little ones, but my coming here was simply to purchase a wifi internet pass which was $4 for 40MB.
I then made my way to deck 8 to the Oceanview Eatery and seating area and found myself a nice pew to while away the time while the ship set sail through the stunning Marlborough Sounds to Wellington.
The Oceanview eatery was opened as soon as the ship departed. There was a wide variety of food from simple snacks to full roast rolls or home made lasagne. Drinks included water, soft drinks, juices and champagne.
My seat was right near the cafe which was one of the best as there was a power outlet right under it. Time to recharge the i-things and myself.
You might be surprised to hear that yet again for the second time this day I had fish. While a little on the small side, it was darn tasty with a really thin batter and moist flesh and at NZ$3.20 a sheer bargain.
After I’d fuelled myself and charged up my devices, I decided it was someone else’s turn to use the power outlet and I headed off for a wander of the ship.
It was such a stunning sight to cruise through the islands and peninsulas that rise from the ocean. Created by rising sea levels over thousands of years, the sparsely populated area of wooded hills underneath rocky outcrops was wonderful to see from the water after I had seen it from the air earlier that day.
I did pop into the ‘Local Heroes Cafe & Bar’ on deck 9, but its was a bit crowded and very much a sports bar so I headed to the Lookout Lounge located over both decks. It was a quiet and relaxing area and the large viewing windows gave a nice view of the journey.
I guess it was about 45 minutes of transiting the sounds until we left the South Island behind and cruised in to the Cook Strait, the body of water that separates both islands of New Zealand.
To my absolute astonishment, I was stunned that you could see both Islands whilst in the middle of the strait. For some reason I thought they, the islands, were further apart, like they were over the horizon, but they werent. North and South were so close as if they almost touched, or as if it would be an easy swim between the two. Apparently though, thats not a good idea with the current being extremely strong and being swept out to the Tasman Sea would be the most likely outcome.
The time went pretty quickly out on deck as I enjoyed taking in the fresh air and marvelling at the sight of the North Island inching its way closer with the slight rolling of the ship. Before I knew it we were cruising into Wellington Harbour towards the capital, Wellington.
The captain, ever so slowly and gracefully, docked the ship at the terminal next to one of the other Interislander ships the M.V Arahura which at 13,600 tonnes and carrying up to 550 passengers is slightly smaller than she who I was sailing on today.
Disembarkation was orderly and quick, it probably helped that I was already out on deck, and I walked through the windy rain that was sprinkling over the city. As I made my way to the bus that would take us from the dock to the railway station thinking what a nice relaxing journey I’d had, suddenly I realised I hadnt felt nausea, motion sickness or seasick at all! Maybe FreakyFlier can take to the sea again?
FreakyFlier travel courtesy of Interislander but all opinions remain his own.