After a really quiet time in Wellington it was time to head south one more time and go back to spend some more time with Charlotte 🙂 Me being me, of course I didn’t take the easy option of just flying there – instead I used all other means of transport!
Starting with what was one of the first buses of the day to leave the Airbnb, it was then on to the shuttle bus for the Interislander ferry. I had checked out the stop the day before so that I would know where to go and when. Once we got to the ferry terminal, we checked in our bags and I learned that because my ferry ticket was part of my train booking I would not have to worry about my bag until we got to Christchurch that evening. Nnnnnice! 🙂
The ferry journey was rather uneventful as for once it was not windy and the sea was very calm that day. Once we got to Picton, it was very easy to find the train station – a) Picton is rather small and b) there was a yellow line on the sidewalk 😛 At the train station, it was again very easy to check in and get the train ticket for the Coastal Pacific. Unfortunately there was no chance of choosing your seat, but as it was a scenic train, it had huge windows anyway and a viewing car which was all open.
The Coastal Pacific does what the name suggests – it travels down right by the coast before heading inland to Christchurch. There are headphones and a commentary on every seat and the above-mentioned huge windows. Also, the most leg space I ever had 😀 There’s also a cafe car. The viewing car was at the front of the train, imagine a normal train car, just with the windows and walls between the windows taken out. That would be my downfall later…
From traveling the same stretch twice on the bus, I had a quite good idea of when it was worth going to the viewing car for good pictures. What I didn’t think of was that the train was going at some speed and that it would be very windy there… So I took a lot of pictures along the coast towards Kaikoura, but after that I had to stay inside because my eyes were majorly irritated. A mix of the wind and a bout of hay fever (usually that doesn’t bother me in December 😛 ) made for a rather painful experience until everything finally calmed down. (Pictures to be added to the post and flickr at a later date!)
We came into Christchurch about half an hour late, but Charlotte was sitting in the waiting area and once I had my bag, we got to the car and she drove us home. There had been some changes since I was there last: She had taken in a little dog called Tui, a Bichon-poodle mix, but Tui had somehow scared off the black cat, Monti. He seems to still come eat in the garage at night, but hasn’t been seen since 😦 Marmi in turn seems quite happy to be the only cat now 😉 Both were very much happy to be cuddled and petted as much as I would want and Tui really showed her cleverness on more than one occasion 🙂
We had some dinner and then an early night – a full day of traveling is quite tiring 😉 The next day we took little Tui for a walk in a lovely dog park, Halswell Quarry, where she could run off leash and get lots of sniffing done 🙂 Diana was also with us that day, but later decided she wasn’t going to join us the next day.
So it was just the two of us heading towards Waipara, a part of the Marlborough wine region. Charlotte took me to the Pegasus Bay Winery, first for a small wine tasting (mmh, Pinot Noir!) and then for a lovely lunch! We shared a platter with all sorts of yummy things which left us pretty full and happy 🙂 Sitting outside in the sunshine, sheltered from the wind by a hedge, it was just a perfect day!
The next day I walked into the city and back – that hadn’t been the plan, but obviously my body wanted the movement! On Saturday, Charlotte had invited two of her friends for a roast dinner and we spent a wonderful evening together. Funny fact: As the ladies are of a certain age and the country itself not very old, they would know all the family connections in the area and know who married a daughter/son of whom and so on. I had no clue, but it was fun to listen to it 🙂
Of course the food was amazing and seeing what she could do in the time, it was even more amazing. I thought we’d have fresh berries with cream for dessert – the next thing I see when I get to the kitchen is Charlotte making a “little creme brulee” 😉 For starters we had crackers with cream cheese and salmon and the main course was a leg of lamb, complete with mince jelly, new potatoes, kumara, asparagus and carrots. So good that I didn’t even take a picture 😛
The day after it was time to say goodbye again and now I am in Auckland, my last night in New Zealand. It will be Sydney and then Melbourne and next week the walkabout will be over for this year – crazy!!!