Journal of a visit to New Zealand, via Singapore

The Land of the Long White Cloud
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Photographs by Gerald England
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This page last updated: 29th November 2005.
Day 20: The Lynx Map

Day 20 I am woken shortly after 6 a.m. by the sound of machinery. They are harvesting the vines in the next field. While Christine continues to sleep, I make some coffee and then take a shower before dressing. It is as well that I am dressed as at 7.30 one of the workmen knocks on the door and asks me to move the car so they can get their machinery down the side of the cottage.

Our breakfast basket arrives at 8 a.m. It includes bacon and eggs which I have to cook on an electric frying pan. Having finished packing I go up to the house to settle the bill. John Joslin apologies for the noise of the harvesters but says he didn't know in advance when they were coming.

We drive down to Picton. Before dropping the car off at the car-rental office next to the ferry terminal, I find a trolley, unload the luggage and take it to be checked in. I've driven over 3000km on the South Island.

We go up to the lounge until it is time to board The Lynx Ferry. This is a modern catamaran that crosses the Cook Straight in just over two hours, as opposed to the three and a half hours taken by the Interislander which is more of a cruise ship. When the time comes to board, Christine manages to commandeer a lift on one of the golf-carts that transports less able passengers onto the vessel.

We sit near the front of the boat in the observation lounge. The panoramic windows provide an excellent view of the passage. Once we are under way up Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel, I take a walk around. It is a modern ferry with comfortable seating. The only access to the outside of the deck is at the stern. This relatively small area, however, seems to be occupied mainly by smokers. Past Perano Head and into the Cook Straight, it picks up speed across the open waters.

On arrival in Wellington, we have to wait until all the cars have left, before we can be taken down to the terminal in the golf-cart. We are dropped off in the baggage collection hall. The Lynx has recently changed its terminus in Wellington and in order to collect our new rental car, we need to catch a free shuttle bus to the old terminus where The Interislander still docks. There are no luggage-carts available at the new terminus, so in order to get Christine, our hand luggage and our two suit-cases from the terminal building to the bus-stop, I have to get assistance. The first shuttle bus has long gone, but we are told another is due soon. Whilst a number of other car-rental companies are delivering vehicles to the new terminus, this doesn't hold true for Budget Rent a Car. There are six of us left waiting for the shuttle, one couple also collecting a Budget car, the other couple using another company.

Our new rental car, although still a Ford Falcon is considerably older than the one we had on the South Island and looks a little dilapidated. Nonetheless we are soon on our way out of Wellington on what is called a "motorway". Actually it is little more than a dual-carriageway, but for the amount of traffic it carries, is perfectly adequate.

We stop eventually at Kaitoke Country Gardens. Although it is just after their official closing time, the chef is still around and we are able to get a cooked meal. An exquisite place, it appears to be popular as a wedding venue.

The next section of road is very twisty and I am tailgated by aggressive drivers in 4WDs. At Featherston, we leave the main road and go down to Martinborough where we are staying at Margrain Vineyard. We find the place on the outskirts of town and drive up to the office. Attached to the door is an envelope addressed to "Gerald & Christine Englund" [sic]. It contains the key to our "villa". The note had been written three days previously.

The villa consists of a tall L-shaped room with a separate room containing a sink, toilet and shower. The shower drains straight on to the floor so the water ends up by the toilet. There is a mirror directly opposite the toilet. The main room has a lovely big bed. However there is only one low coffee-table and a two-seater settee with no cushions. Our breakfast for the morrow is in the fridge — two small cans of fruit, one of peaches, the other of pears; four slices of frozen bread; two small bottles of juice, one tomato, one orange; a choice of peanut, marmalade or raspberry jam spread; sufficient milk for a small bowl of cereal after using some in tea.

I leave Christine having a rest and drive into town. Martinborough is a small place of wooden buildings with streets set off from a large square. On one corner is the impressive-looking Martinborough Hotel. I find a small grocery store and purchase some danish pastries. There is a Chinese takeaway across the street and I discover that it shuts at 8.30 p.m.

Back at the vineyard I write and read a little. I can't watch the TV as the batteries in the remote control are dead. Just before 8 I go off to the Chinese takeaway and fetch some sweet-and-sour chicken for supper.

Journal - Day 21 Photographs - Day 20