Crossing the Cook Strait -> Dunedin

We walked from the train station along the harbour front to the Te Papa (National Museum of New Zealand) and guess who was sitting there?! Nina! By text message I had found out that she arrived in Wellington a few hours before. She took us to Rowena’s Lodge Backpackers, seemingly the only place in/near the city that offered tentsites (at $12.50 pp cheaper than a dorm bed).

During the next 2 days we walked up to Mt. Victoria (due to the overcast weather nice but not brilliant views of the city/harbour) and spent many hours in Te Papa.
About an hour before we had to go to the train station to catch the free shuttle bus to the ferry terminal, I saw another familiar face: French Jessica (we worked together in Whakapapa)! Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to talk (-> ferry) and only caught up quickly on recent travels.

Our ferry was once again the Arahura, this time we chose to take the 6.15 pm departure, so we could see the sunset over the Marlborough Sound (last time was a night passage). Unfortunately the weather wasn’t really great for sunset watching and all we could see outside was grey (-> very poor visibility). So we just sat in the lounge, watched a bit of TV, read the newspaper, …
At ca. 9.30 pm the ferry arrived in Picton. It was raining but for budget reasons we wanted to camp, so we walked to where the closest end of town was. Just when we arrived at the reserve we were heading to a little Chubb security car stopped and the guys inside advised us that camping is not allowed in the reserves, along the foreshore and beaches. We knew that already but usually find a hidden enough spot not to be caught anyway. This time these guys would know we are there, thus they would definitively catch us. So the park wasn’t an option. Damn…
We turned around and headed for the other end of town. Both of us were hungry and tired, and the rain added to the negative mood. As we arrived on the main street Amanda refused to go any further and wanted a backpackers. I gave in and took her to Picton Lodge Backpackers. To dorm beds set me back by $44.
On tuesday morning we stocked up on food at the local supermarket (”SuperValue”) and had lunch on a bench in the same shopping centre. It was mid-afternoon when we walked to the end of town and got a lift by a kindergarten teacher. She dropped us off on the road out of Blenheim.
This stretch of road seemed quite popular with hitch-hikers - two of them lined the road already and 2 more were just walking towards the townend. As we got dropped of before the last one, we didn’t put our thumbs out to give him his fair chance first. But after a few minutes a car pulled over next to us. The driver had just picked up the guy before us and loaded us on the back seat. He introduced himself as Alex. The other hitcher was Sein. With several stops at liquor shops and for toilet breaks we got to Christchurch by about 10 pm. Alex took Sein to his destination in Hornby (one of the southern suburbs) and we were invited up to Sein’s (ex?) girlfriend’s room in this weird building complex of even weirder people. Had a few beers and went back on the road.
We were all pretty tired and decided to find a spot for the night when we passed Timaru and continue to Dunedin in the morning. Alex had to go all the way to Invercargill after somebody had broken into his car the day before and stole all his valuables while he was swimming near Nelson. In Invercargill a friend was owing him $1000, which he hoped would last him for the next week till he would fly back to Australia.
It took us several sidetrips onto dirtroads off the main road till we eventually settled on a paddock near the sea. Amanda and I pitched the tent, I cooked up some pasta and we had a few more beers before we finally hit the ground around 3.30 am.

The farmer had gone by in his tractor several times by the time we left, and he obviously didn’t mind us on his paddock.
In the early afternoon Alex dropped us at the Adventurer Backpackers, where I had left some of my stuff in June. It was still there and we booked in for the next two nights.
I ment to sort through all my stuff and send home whatever I didn’t need but still was too good to be binned. I wanted to catch up on internet stuff as well and get more jewellery done to send to my family. After 2 days I still haven’t achieved much of all this… today, on the 3rd day, we’re are getting somewhere. Amanda has created numerous shell and paua necklaces and earings at the local Beadshop, I could merely help in bits but didn’t get much done myself.
As it is getting late again (it always is with me…right?!), we probably won’t leave town till tomorrow. Then we’ll head back up to the northern part of the South Island where we want to do some more tramping (=hiking) and maybe sea-kayaking.

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