This morning I have to leave early for the ferry and get up at 06:00 hours. Finding my way in the dark proves difficult and after a while I find out that I have taken a wrong turn in the beginning. There is nothing left than to drive back and this takes a big bite out of my spare time. Later, while driving abeam Wellington, I see the ferry but the turn-off does not indicate ‘ferry’ but something like ‘quay’, while a couple of miles ago ‘ferry’ was signposted. Maybe I have missed a post but I hesitate just a little bit too long and pass the turn-off.
A bit further I am just in time to take an exit into the city right in front of a traffic jam. It would be quite horrible to get stuck into that. Luckily, the road to the ferry terminal is clearly marked within the town.
Finally on the terminal, I have a bit of time left to take a photograph of the car…
…and the ferry.
Soon after, we are directed on to the vessel. On the ferry we have to drive a kind of loop, to the end, back to the beginning and then turn once again. Weird.
Wellington is illuminated nicely by the rising sun, while light levels are still quite low because of the cloud cover.
Towards the other direction I can shoot a nice sunrise.
Looking back to Wellington along the chimney for a final view.
Queen Charlotte Sound
The ferry trip itself goes easy. It takes only 3 hours of which half is via sea. I am asleep during that part, in a comfortable chair. The second half goes through beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound.
At various spots I see jetties and little houses and I am wondering whether they are all connected by roads or that they can get here only by boat. On both sides there are hills, covered with green foliage.
I make several shots for a cute Polish girl. It has to be done several times all over again because she does not like the way here hair is on it. Well if it is really that important, then we have to do it again (-;
Several ferries pass on their way back to Wellington.
This particular photo clearly shows that these slopes are in use for logging. All trees have been planted by hand.
After a while, Picton Harbour shows up around the corner.
Here too are some ferries, waiting for departure.
After a wide turn, our parking lot comes into view.
The photographs of Queen Charlotte Sound and Picton Harbour do not have the lighting- and colour quality I usually strive for, because I was unable to shoot multiple exposures and use a tripod. These are just hand shot single exposures.
From Picton you can go into two directions, to the left and going down along the east coast direction Christchurch or to the right to follow the north coast. Normally I would have turned left to Kaikoura for the whales. But this is typically a place where you should not be in the weekend. So, it is better to turn right and spend a few days in the north west. After the weekend I can travel inland towards the east coast to return to the west coast for the glaciers.
I follow the main road along the fjords and soon have to stop for road maintenance activities. I have to wait for a while for a red traffic light and notice a blackbird sitting close to the road. She stumbles to my car and then I loose sight of her. It seems like she has been hit by a car. I open the left door to see where she is. She is startled by it and after some fluttering she is in the middle of the engine cowling looking right at me. I think ‘shit, this way I can not start driving’. I go outside quickly and try to catch her. That does not succeed. Ze flutters down again and tries to escape under the car. She can not fly that well. It is some uncontrolled fluttering but I do not see any broken legs or wings. Maybe she is only dizzy from the collision. Otherwise I would helped her to the eternal hunting grounds. I let her live and hope that she will survive. Careful I move her into the grass and then the traffic light is green and I have to go. This is a pity. I would have liked to catch her for a better look at what is wrong with her.
After a while I leave the main road for one of the side roads to Tennyson Inlet. This seems to be a nice place to visit. It takes a lot longer to get there than I thought it would. This is 35 kilometers of a kind of bicycle road going from left to right. The last 10 kilometers are that steep, that I have to use the second gear to negotiate them.
The inlet is a kind of bay with some small boats. Funny is that I now see the jetties and houses from the other side. So there are roads after all in these fjords. There was another of these on the planning, but I skip it quite easily.
A plan is lacking
Back at the main road I continue to Nelson. Here I find a place to think for a while about the route to take. There are some viewpoints and a very nice beach within an hour driving. There is also a route to the very north west point of the island. Here are some highlights also, among which a sinkhole (a hole of 200 meters deep in the forest), but takes some 200 kilometers of driving. Given my experience earlier this afternoon this could be very disappointing. It is quite a long drive and I would have to return the same way. I can go straight to the south west but then I might go too fast.
I have still 19 days left being 6 more than on the South Island. If I go too slow now, then I will have to skip things at the end but if I go too fast, I might be skipping things while I will have time left in the end. It is a bit difficult to estimate and I am not sure what is the best thing to do. First fill up the supplies. Maybe that I do know what to do afterwards.
When I return from the shop I still do not know what to do. After a short while I just force a decision. I do not want to drive to the far north west and back with the risk of spending one or two days. It would be different if there are beautiful things to see overthere but that is not the case. I better keep this time in reserve to spend on Steward Island for example. I can however drive along the coast for an hour or so, because after that I can still turn inland.
In the end I find a motel in Motueka. A little trick I have discovered lately is to first pay for the motel and then ask for internet passwords. Because I am traveling alone and pay for a complete studio, they are usually more then happy to provide me with free internet. It does not always work like this, though. However if I ask before paying then I always have to pay for it (-;
Now, I am missing the time I have wasted earlier this afternoon. The sinkhole appears to be relatively close. The postcard beach is only 12 minutes from here and there are some other viewpoints as well. The sinkhole can be reached via an 11 kilometer road followed by a 30 minute hike. Within 2.5 hours it will get dark here. So the time left, is too short. I really want to see the beach which could be a nice sunset location.
First I drive to the highest point (25 minutes driving) for an overview of the area. Arriving there it appears to be a 3 hour hike to get to the real viewpoint. The closest hill seems doable, so I decide to climb that one instead. This is somewhat disappointing. After climbing some 50 meters, the complete slope is covered with filthy, thorny bushes. It is impossible to cross and everything you touch results in little wounds. So, back to the car we go.
To the sinkhole then after all? Arriving at the turnoff there are signposts warning about narrow road without possibilities to overtake. Then you know that these 11 kilometers can easily take 40 minutes (x2). Thus, I have to skip it for now. The beach is next.
After a while I find a slope covered with rocks that have eroded in a special way. The stones are illuminated by beautiful soft light.
It takes a while to find a safe spot along the road. There is virtually no space between the road and the steep shoulder. Meanwhile, the warm light is loosing it from the shadows, because the sun disappears behind a hill.
A cold shadow is what remains. There are a lot of nice compositions possible though.
Later I find out that the surrounding hills are all covered with these weird stones.
The sun hides behind a large cloud cover. This does not predict anything nice for tomorrow.
A Postcard Beach
Kaiteriteri Beach, is indeed an idyllic place, but is a real morning location. On the map it seemed like the sun would set above the water, but that is not the case. There is another beach closeby: Little Kaiteriteri. That has the best possibilities. As sunset is imminent I go to that one.
Even before I am there, the sun appears for only a few minutes from between the clouds and illuminates a few rocks in the water. I run fast to the beach with my gear. No time for nice compositions, just shoot without thinking.
I have only time for a few tries. As often, this is a matter of seconds. This beautiful type of light lasts for moments only. Having a single doubt and you are left with empty hands.
I just have time to try a vertikal composition before the sun hides again behind the clouds. It is now 19:15 and waiting for 45 minutes for the sunset is futile. I return to my motel to work on my diary. I am aiming for the sunrise early tomorrow morning.
Earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan
These one and a half hours of sleep on the ferry were good. I am feeling quite awake and fresh now. On television I see the news about the 8.9 earth quake in Japan, followed by the tsunami. There is a warning for many areas, but New Zealand is not among them. This is something to watch closely, though. My motel is very close to shore and the terrain in between is flat. I am thinking about how long it will take for the tidal wave to arrive.
After a while, New Zealand is mentioned in the tsunami warnings as well. I wonder how it would feel to be hit in the dark by a wall of water and debris… Difficult to imagine. I am not feeling completely comfortable to be honest. I will keep a sharp eye on the television and internet until I know exactly what is going to happen. High hills can be reached here within 10 minutes. To get safe would not be a problem.
On the internet you already can find information about it. Here you can see all earth quakes realtime and here the travel time of the tsunami waves. The earthquake happened at 18:46 and the waves will arrive 12 hours later in the far north here. I just hear on tv that this will be around 06:14. One hour later they will arrive at the south island.
At this point in time there is no offical ‘warning’ in force but an ‘advisory’. The thread is being assessed continuously and at this point only a ‘marine thread’ is anticipated. This means that the water can be rough and everybody is advised to stay away from the water, the beaches and estuaries. There goes my little plan for the morning.
The advice now is to ‘not be overly alarmed but alert’.
I keep watching tv during the night and if it becomes a real threat I will drive up into the hills. These are several hundreds of meters high here.
Maps, Charts & Downloads
GPS Map with color coded altitude information
Color coded distance/altitude chart
Download the original gpx file gpx file here.