Touring New Zealand – Expect Visual Overload
New Zealand is an amazing place, most of the time it is simply an assault on the senses. Visual overload goes with out saying, I find myself literally gasping at every bend in the road.
The waters of Marlborough sound, so deep and pure rush past the ferry as it makes it’s way to Picton. The hills that form the sides of the Sounds stand steep and tall, like the buttress walls of a fortress, and race at an astonishing gradient down to the water. Snuggly nestled in the little bays that line the shore are picturesque homes, ready fuel for your imagination. What would it be like to get your mail or go shopping by boat? What do you do if you run out of milk, no 711 round the corner?
Picton is a lovely town and perfect entry point to New Zealand’s South Island, with a great “I Site” (tourist information centre) close to the ferry terminal. There are many good eateries in and around the main street, and you should take the time to refresh, check your petrol and map before heading out of town.
Most tourist keep moving but there is of course an excellent range of accommodation in Picton for anyone wanting to explore the Sound.
It’s really important to remember that although New Zealand may only be a small country with relatively short distances between destinations that doesn’t mean the your trip will be quick. The steep nature of the country and windy roads can double and sometimes even triple the time it normal takes to cover the same distance on a straight road. Having said that, the roads generally aren’t congested and driving is quite relaxing, except when you get stuck behind a convoy of camper vans heading up a mountain pass.
* I always travel by hired car when I tour NZ. Their government requires vehicles to have safety checks every six months, therefore, even the cheapest of hire cars are well maintained. So don’t feel you need to go up market.
* If you pre- order your ferry tickets from the Inter Islander you get a significant discount
*Bring (or buy from an op shop) a thermos, always important to have access to warm drinks in a cold country. Also from the op shop find some cutlery & crockery. Another good thing to pick up is a blanket, you never know when the weather may change.
* A $3.00 insulated bag from Countdown (NZ supermarket chain) will mean you can carry milk and any other food Item that may need to be kept cool.
Next – On to Nelson and Golden Bay