Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Zealand 2016 Day 7. From Wellington to the South Island.

Early in the morning we took the ferry, across the Cook Strait, to hop from the North to the South Island. The ferry ride is pretty expensive (about US$225), so we decided to make the most of it by hanging out on deck, seeing the sights. Coming out of the Wellington harbor was fun, because we were able to look out into the town. Then there is the crossing of the strait, where there is not much to see, and finally the ferry enters into the Marlborough Sounds, and then the scenery becomes spectacular. You can imagine the tip of the South Island as a hand with extended fingers, with the space between the fingers being the long reentrants of the ocean unto the land. The ferry rides for nearly one hour down the Queen Charlotte Sound, in between two of the ridges (the fingers in my simple model), which thus afford a magnificent panorama to both starboard and larboard. Reminds me of the Chilean Archipelago or the Inland Passage of western Canada.

We landed about noon in Picton, and from there took the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive until we found a suitable beach, where I lazed under a tree reading, while Anna went for a quick dip and a sunbathing session. Back in the car we headed south, to Kaikoura, which is a touristy town along the east coast. It is a great place to watch the seals and all sorts of seabirds. We took this opportunity to go on a short hike along the coastal cliffs, and more than ever it hit me that New Zealand and California have many things in common. For example, both are long and narrow, extend from 35 to 43 degrees latitude in their respective hemispheres, have active faults, and have a thinly laminated mudstone (the Monterey Formation in the case of California) that causes the coastal cliffs to be very light in color.

We spent the night at one of the many rest areas outside of Kaikoura, where one can park for free (but where often there are no toilets, showers, or sources of fresh water. I think we are going to try to hit a formal campground every other night, just so we don’t get too stinky.  

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