|Wellington quickly recedes into the distance as the BlueBridge ferry heads from New Zealand’s North to South Island.|
|Quiet room on BlueBridge Ferry from Wellington to Picton.|
The “long white cloud” aka New Zealand, is actually two long islands, one North, one South. To get between the two, there is no road. You have to either have to fly or get their by boat. The stretch between the two, with Wellington on New Zealand’s North Island and Picton on New Zealand’s South Island is called Cooks Straight, and is a very challenging stretch of water. It’s very windy*, with strong currents, sizable chop and some tight areas with lots of nasty rocks.
*Windy Wellington hits over 35 knots at least once daily about 1/3 of the year.
|Note this woman’s hair? She was halfway|
between the cabin and the deck. Did I
mention Cook Straight gets windy?
As we wanted to explore South Island mostly by land we opted for the ferry, which allows cars.
At the time we booked, our trip online with BlueBridge for one car and two passengers was a little under $260 New Zealand (about $175 USD), one way for the 8 am ferry. For a bit extra, we could’ve booked a queen-sized bed for the 4-hour passage. If we take the red eye on the way back, and we may, we might do just that. The red-eye is less expensive so the difference nearly washes out.
|BlueBridge South to North-bound ferry passing us.|
Notice the whitecaps? Guessing winds were 25-35 knots then.
There is another ferry company; we chose BlueBridge as they’re less expensive. We’re not sure the difference, but BlueBridge could easily pass for a hotel and even had a movie theater where they played 2 free back-to-back movies. We opted to take in the scenery instead.
|At last, New Zealand’s beautiful South Island begins to come into sharp focus on the ferry. Notice how flat the water became?|
No whitecaps here!
The scenery is spectacular! It’s hard to do it justice, and even then hard to choose which out of the few hundred photos I took were the best to include.
FYI – for prospective ferry-takers…
- You need to arrive an hour before the ferry’s scheduled to depart, but don’t be surprised if the ferry doesn’t leave on time. We drove aboard at 7:40, but didn’t leave until 8:40 and arrived about an hour late in South Island. Relax and enjoy the ride.
- Food and drink are quite expensive. I wish we’d brought a thermos of hot coffee as a very small serving cost $4 NZ. In the cafe, the coffee wasn’t very good, though the barista coffee, which opened later, made a decent small latte for $4.50 NZ.
- Dress for wind if you want to enjoy the deck.
|As New Zealand’s South Island’s Queen Charlotte Bay opened up,|
the wind picked back up. That’s why this sailboat
is only flying a reefed jib.
As sailors whose boat more often than not averages a poky 4 knots, it was also exhilarating to move along at what was probably 25 knots on BlueBridge, even in some hefty winds.
“You’ll regret you didn’t take your boat when you get to the Sound,” we were told. Perhaps, but crossing the Cook Straight that day on BlueBridge, we were very happy we didn’t. And we were fortunate enough to do it on a beautiful, sunny day.
Plus, at the end of it, we could simply drive off and begin our land exploration.
|Again, a calmer spot on Queen Charlotte’s Bay|
New Zealand South Island.
Our boat will be ready for more cruising before long. Meanwhile, we’re enjoying this break overland in New Zealand.
|There were several sweet little bays like this|
coming into New Zealand’s South Island.
|View overlooking New Zealand’s South Island Picton and the ferry at the ferry dock.|
Cruising by the Numbers