Up at 4.30am in order to get to Wellington in time to catch the inter-island ferry. Although trying our best not to disturb the rest of the household it is hard not to bump into stuff and electric garage doors make lots of noise that that time of the morning. Sorry Wendy & Brent.
It is only about 140km down to Wellington, the ride in pre-dawn darkness was certainly an interesting experience. I'm sure there were nice views along the way but pretty much all I saw was road markings and Doug's lights as I attempted to keep him in sight as we negotiated the traffic. Thankfully at that time of the morning there wasn't all that much traffic, mostly trucks, but as we got closer to Wellington the density increased.
At one point we were skirting the waterfront and you could see the lights reflected in the water, it was only glimpses though as I was concentrating on staying alive and keeping Doug in sight, a couple of moments requiring some innovative road positioning but the other motorists were pretty accommodating, a friendly wave to the drivers and they would make room.
We were at the ferry terminal in good time and soon loaded aboard, bikes tied down and off up to the cafeteria for some coffee and breakfast. Free wifi too, so time to update my blog.
The weather was a bit hazy initially, so not all that much to see but the sea is calm which is good, very good. A handful of other bikes on board, trucks and lots of tourists. So many campervans......
We head into the boats cafe for some breakfast, which was passable although the coffee was wasn't. Doug reckoned his bacon & eggs was OK, the service was friendly and efficient though.
Apparently the main ferry service is currently on reduced capacity due to a mishap with their principle vessel, something to do with one of the propellors falling off! So Doug booked us onto a smaller outfit that are family run. They are doing a pretty efficient job of it though with the loading of cars, trucks, trailers and bikes all done quite smoothly. We had to tie our own bikes down but the do provide chocks and ties although we had also brought rachet straps.
As we approached the South Island the haze had burned off and the sea was nice and smooth, so we headed out onto the fore deck to catch the sights and enjoy the beaut fresh air, very bracing fresh air, glad I had my bike jacket with me.
On docking at Picton they had the bikes off first, so they had all the bikers together on the upper deck & then escorted us down to the car deck to untie our bikes. Pretty much as soon at they lowered the ramps we were off and away, our South Island jaunt had finally commenced.
Due to the really early start we only have a short run today, so from Picton we head to Blenheim for a quick bite of lunch. A promising looking cafe beckoned which served healthy fare, my toasted blini with smoked chicken, brie and other goodies filled the hungry hole really well. Doug wanted a coke to go with his toastie but the staff said they didn't serve such things (far too unhealthy), mind you the home-made iced coffee I had probably had more sugar and certainly way more fat than a fizzy drink. The lady at the register had a bit of a giggle about the whole thing.
Hunger sated, off to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum (I think that was the title). This place is under the patronage of Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit fame, he is a bit of a WW1 aviation buff and it shows.
If you are interested in old military aircraft and are over this way, do yerself a big favour and check it out. The eye for creating realistic sets that Mr Jackson brings to the place is really evident, he has replica (and genuine) significant aircraft from both sides set up in aerial dioramas that you can get right up close to, fabulous stuff for an aviation nut. Quite a number of the aircraft are airworthy and regularly flown at airshows, which is how I reckon old aircraft should be shown and enjoyed. The depiction of the soldiers "souveniering" from the Red Barons' crashed Triplane is a little unsettling, although servicemen from all sides and eras certainly did the same. Just the sight of a bunch of cheerful guys pulling the fur flying boots of his still warm body just doesn't seem quite right.
After the museum it's off to a friend of Dougs who is putting us up for the night. The little road from Blenheim to Seddon is huge fun, not fast but perfectly cambered corner after corner that has you flicking the bike from side to side as you climb and descend hills. Real grin inducing stuff.
So tomorrow we start touring in earnest, with starting times that we feel like rather than having to be at a certain place by a set time, as Doug puts it "we are on holidays, we can set our own timetable to suit how we feel", well said that man!
Please be patient regarding photos, I have only limited data upload capacity at the moment so will post a bunch up when I can access a good connection.