Musings of a morbid mind

The general ravings of Scott Baldwin

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Once I finally got out of Wellington, I decided that for completeness sake, I had to at least set foot on the South Island. The easiest (cheapest) way to do this is by ferry. So I went down to the port and waited at the terminal for 3 and a half hours (the ferry was delayed, and there was no easy way back into the city). I really love being on the water, and the gentle rocking of the ferry as we crossed cook straight was very relaxing. The scenery both leaving Wellington, and going through the Queen Charlotte Sounds was spectacular. I arrived into Picton just as it got dark.

Family dogs help collect the mail
The next day I decided to make the most of the last day of my trip by going on some kind of tour. Either a winery tour or a boat cruise. The guy at "The Villa" hostel was very helpful, and rang around a number of different tourist places he knew that ran these kinds of tours, but alas couldn't find a single one for me. In the end I managed to find a tour called "The magic mail run". Basically, every permanent resident living on The Sound is entitled to a free mail service twice weekly. Because of their remoteness, the best (and in most cases only) way to get to them is by water. Having said that, these remote places still have all of the mod-cons like power, running water, telephone and interweb. 

To make this endeavour worthwhile, the New Zealand postal service has farmed out the responsibilities to a tourist company, and as well as being a mail service, it is also a tourist cruise around the Queen Charlotte Sounds. The scenery was truly breath-taking. 
Ship Cove
The guide/postman was quite entertaining, and even let us off for a 15 minute explore around Ship Cove (made famous by Captain Cook's love of parking their while on his voyages).

As delightful as the scenery was on the way, The Queen Charlotte Sounds had one last trick up her sleeve. 

Sunset over the Queen Charlotte Sounds

As we dropped off the last of the mail, and headed for home, the Sound turned on the most magnificent of sunsets. Colours so bright and vibrant, that at point, it almost looked like giant orange, yellow and red flames coming out of the mountains.

Sunset over the Queen Charlotte Sounds

That night, I went out and had a really nice meal at a local pub, which included some refreshing glasses of wine‚Ķ and then some pirates drinks (port mixed with brandy), and then a few Talisker Scotch's. I stumbled home reasonably early, and got a good night's sleep before getting up incredibly early to catch the 6:25am ferry home. Due to the beverages the night before I wasn't feeling at the top of my game when the alarm went off, but I walked down to the terminal anyhow, and found out that the ferry had been delayed by almost 3 hours due to rough seas. No problem, I went and had breakfast in town while I waited. When the ferry eventually came, once we got past the sounds and into the Cook Straight, the seas were indeed rough. 

Rough ferry ride home
At a guess, I would say 4-5 meter swells in places. Normally I enjoy the rocking of the boat, even in high seas. For instance I slept like a child rocked in his mother's arms when I crossed Bass Straight in seas every bit as rough if not more so, as the ones in Cook Straight this day. In the beginning I was really enjoying it, but as the voyage continued, I slowly began to feel more and more ill. Moral of the story is, if you plan to have a big night out, fly across cook straight the next day, don't risk the seas.


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