Nick drove us to town at an early hour, + we sat in the Railway Station, while Val packaged up another parcel to send home – mainly her ukulele. That done, to the Ferry terminal. Tho’ it was busier than we’d anticipated, there was no problem, + we were safely aboard for the 10 o’clock sailing. Knowing the way of such things, our first priority was to secure 2 seats – only then did we take it in turns to explore. The sailing was unremarkable, very similar to the channel crossings I’ve had, a similar length of time, similar water. A pity really, I would have relished some rough sea… I think. We met one of the tour drivers who used to call in at Cascade, so chatted briefly. Also the 4 Canadians who’d given us a ride to Rotorua – an even briefer exchange. It seems tho; that we were passengers on either the ultimate or the penultimate voyage of the ship as a Cook Strait ferry, I believe she was called the Aranua, or something like that. The Marlborough Sound, into which we sailed, looked very attractive, all the more so as there had been a dramatic improvement in the weather, + wet, windy Wellington (tho’ I don’t mean to be nasty – in fact, I like it as a city) being replaced by balmy Picton.
We disembarked pretty smartly, but even so the hitch-hiking competition was on the fierce side. Our only advantage was that we weren’t taking the main route to Nelson, but a service road hugging the coast. We planned to stop off at a place called Anakiwa – there Doug had a holiday cottage, which Penny + Hank were using at the moment, + he had suggested we call in – we were more than happy to take him up on his offer. Hitching was a bit slow, there being a definite paucity of traffic, but after a little while a guy in a big car picked us up. A little further down the road he picked up another guy, + then yet another bloke beyond him. Quite the hitch-hiker’s express, we were. The road was supposed to be scenic, + certainly was, beautiful views over the hills + bays of Marlborough Sound. Val said she had a feeling of being high, drifting along with this gorgeous scenery floating by. We were dropped off at the turning for Anakiwa, + then a 3 or 4 km walk out to the cottage. Val has turned into the pacemaker when we walk nowadays, she really steps it out, + I have huge difficulty in keeping up with her.
Only Hank + the baby were there to welcome us – they’d been forewarned by telephone of our probable arrival. A cup of tea was offered + gratefully accepted, + soon Penny came in, returning from her walk. Some other people she knew arrived soon after, + monopolised the conversation rather, but for the rest of the evening, the 4 of us got on well, chatting about music, travelling, etc. I feel sorry for them tho’, being somewhat lumbered with a baby. A nice dinner, a few beers, music on their tape-player – all very pleasant.
And leaving New Zealand’s North island does seem like a definite step… not necessarily onwards of course, since it takes us further south + away from home, but definitely a move. And across significant water – a symbolic, as well as a scenic, plus.