Why are we moving across the New Zealand landscape so fast?
Partly because we’re doing a favor for Spaceships, bringing one of their vans down to Christchurch before the end of the month. At this time of year (going into summer) they don’t usually do one-way rentals. (Apparently the majority of people visiting NZ fly into Auckland and out of Christchurch, resulting in a glut of rental cars and vans on the South Island. It can get so bad that you can even “rent” a car or van for free if you want to travel in the opposite direction—in which case all you pay for is a flight down and the gas to return the vehicle within 5 days. Sometimes they’ll even pay for the ferry between the North and South Islands! We seriously considered this, but ultimately decided against it due to the hassle of flying and the time limitation.) But Spaceships needed this particular model on the South Island, so they gave us a good deal on a one-way rental from Auckland to Christchurch until this Friday (tomorrow). Then on Saturday we’ll pick up another van for two weeks to tour the South Island.
Returning to the travelogue, as I blogged already, we skipped out on Tongariro due to weather and headed to Wellington. On Tuesday we visited with Wendy of Cultured, a cheesemonger that Stephanie discovered through Twitter. She sent us away with several cheeses to try and info on some artisan cheesemakers we might visit on the South Island. After lunch we went downtown to see the highly recommended national museum, Te Papa. We wandered around until we were thoroughly museumed-out, and then we headed back to the holiday park for a dinner of bread and cheese and wine.
On Wednesday morning we woke up early to catch an 8am ferry to the South Island, which takes about 3 hours. We arrived in Picton a little after 11 and continued driving down towards Kaikoura, where we planned to spend two nights.