Crossing The Cook Strait
As you will know, New Zealand is comprised of two large islands, aptly named North Island and South Island. Most holiday makers choose to travel around both islands whilst on holiday so at some point you need to cross the Cook Strait which separates the two. When I needed to cross from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on the South, I choose to cross using Bluebridge Ferries.
The main reason I chose the Bluebridge ferry instead of the more popular, and better publicised, Interislander Ferry was that Bluebridge offered a better fare on the day I was travelling. I was surprised to find Bluebridge ferry terminal just a little further down the road to the Interislander but due to the size of the terminal building and its location near the city centre, it’s actually not that obvious to find.
Once I pulled into the car queue at the terminal, I was greeted warmly by a Bluebridge staff member and asked to show my ticket. I was then asked to drive into the queue of waiting vehicles. From the car, I could see the local quayside and some views out across Wellington but after a few minutes of sitting in my car, the novelty of waiting for the ferry wore off so I decided to leave the car and investigate the terminal building. There were some toilet facilities, a café, some vending machines and a newspaper-type stand which entertained me for a further thirty minutes before I rejoined my car and watched the incoming Bluebridge ferry dock.
Minutes later, I was driving my car up the ramp of the ferry. This was the first time I’d driven onto a ferry and was a little cautious but it was easy to do – as well as simply following the car in front, there were attendants to point the way. After parking I took the stairs to check out the facilities.
The first thing I noticed was a large café or restaurant area which was serving two main meals for my lunchtime crossing – fish and chips or burger and chips. I thought this was pretty uninspired but ordered the fish and chips anyway. I’m glad I ordered as soon as I boarded as the ferry and the café itself quickly filled up and everyone from little old ladies to families and even truckers were ordering the same. A few minutes later I was tucking into my freshly battered fish and enjoying my piping hot chips – Bluebridge’s chips are delightful!
After lunch I headed to the seating area which was reminiscent of plane travel. The seats faced towards a large TV at the front of cabin that was showing Mr Bean. Although a little outdated, I watched some of the movie before deciding to check out the deck.
Outside a fairly strong southerly wind was blowing which made it quite cold despite the sun. I pulled my coat more tightly around myself and walked along the deck taking in the ever growing mountains of the South Island. A fellow traveller told me to watch out for dolphins which apparently sometimes swam next to the ferry but I wasn’t lucky enough to see any. After another trip inside to warm up a bit with a hot chocolate, I ventured outside again to see the stunning scenery of the Marlborough Sounds, followed by watching our Bluebridge ferry dock at Picton.
The overhead tannoy asked vehicle owners to return to their vehicles ready to disembark and I was a little sad that my Cook Strait crossing was over. Rather than the expected chore of enforced travel, I had found the experience thoroughly enjoyable.
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