Lake Ferry (near Martinborough), North Island
Jan 18, 2009
|We were then up at the crack of dawn to head along the coast to Picton, to catch the ferry over to the North Island. We had pre-booked the sailing for 10.10am which meant getting up at 5am. Oh well – at least seeing the sun rise over the scenic Abel Tasman made it worth it (almost). It was a beautiful drive too, all the way along the coast. We stopped in a little fishing village called Havelock for freshly baked pain au chocolate, croissants, hot choccie and coffee. Mm-mmmmm! This village was at the tip of a sheltered bay which was perfect for growing green lipped mussels. It had become a bit of a mecca for mussel fans and even had a mussel festival. From Havelock the road twisted up through the hills with wonderful views out over the bay, then wound its way down into Picton and the ferry terminal.
New Zealand has the flower, Agapanthus, everywhere. They are beautiful with tall green stems a couple of feet high and a ball of lilac or white petals on top. However, you hardly see any other flowers so they get a bit boring. They aren’t growing wild, so have been planted, and obviously love the climate, but you see almost no other splashes of colour (this time of year anyway). The mountain drives in the North Island have plenty of hydrangea, rhododendron and azalea bushes which must be amazing when they are all flowering – not now though unfortunately.
We drove onto the ferry and found a table to settle down for the 3 hour journey across the Cook Strait. Martin took the girls to the playroom which also had a TV (Mickey Mouse), while he read the paper, and I tried to catch up on this blog – it’s a losing battle! I love writing it, and want to keep a record for the girls’ sake so they can look back on the things I’m sure they won’t really remember in a few years time, but there’s so little time to sit down and write. Such busy days, giving me loads to write about, late nights for the girls so such a short time to write once they are tucked up, and then days on end with no internet. I am writing it into a document so don’t need to be on the internet, but don’t want to download my writing without the photos as you don’t get the whole story. I’ll have to finish it back in Ireland at this rate!
We finally arrived into Wellington – Kia ora to North Island!! Today we were meeting up with my great friend from London, Lilamani. She is a New Zealander (of Sri Lankan/Dutch parents) and was home from London visiting her family. Perfect timing. At first we were going to visit Lilamani at her parents’ house in Masterton, but it was a bank holiday so they had all gone down to her brother’s holiday cottage (batch) in a tiny little place called Lake Ferry. Lovely to get off the tourist route for a while and see New Zealander’s in their natural habitat – a rare species indeed. There are only 4 million of them!
Lake Ferry is 30 minutes from Martinborough, a pretty little town in the heart of the wine country. We would have loved to have visited a few of the vineyards for tastings etc on this trip but that wouldn’t have been conducive to driving a motor home, or carrying any of it back with us to Ireland. We checked out the cost of sending some home but that was prohibitive too. Martin would have loved to have visited Cloudy Bay in particular (north east corner of the South Island near Blenheim), but I think he might have pickled himself in their sauvignon blanc so that’s maybe not a bad thing we missed it this time.
We reached Lake Ferry, and found Whale Cottage, at about 2pm. Lilamani and her family were in the garden – how great it felt to see her! Our girls made immediate friends with Lilamani’s brother Raja and his wife Edwina’s children, Georgia and Sara (and baby Harrison). They all played really nicely together and bundled into the little tent, made chalk paintings on stones collected from the nearby beach, danced about, and had a lovely time. It was lovely to finally meet Lilamani’s sister, Sonali, too having heard so much about her over the years, and to see her parents Kit and Anna (I had met them once in London many years ago).
The beach was only 200 yards away so we wandered down to play there for a while. I’ve never seen such a strange looking beach before, but strange in a kind of beautifully desolate way. It was vast, and stretched for a few miles either side of where we had arrived onto it, with tall cliffs at either end looming in the distance. It was completely made up of dark grey pebbles and shingle, which looked nearly black where the sea touched the stones. The sky was very brooding at this time, as dark threatening clouds had blown overhead, and with the bleached white driftwood scattering the beach, it looked like an elephants’ graveyard. Fantastic.
The children collected driftwood and stuck them in the pebbles, making little villages, and seemed perfectly happy for ages. Lilamani and I caught up on a bit of London gossip and swapped travelling stories (she had just travelled in from the Philippines). Eventually the wind and the threatening rain got the better of us and we headed back to the cottage.
The afternoon was spent just relaxing, drinking and chatting, and at around 7pm we all piled into the camper can and Kit’s car and went to the pub in Lake Ferry to have fish and chips for tea. The rain and wind arrived but the adults weathered it on the front balcony of the pub, while the girls had fun colouring and doing stickers in the camper van. Advantages of taking your house with you!
It was a beautiful spot to have discovered, thanks to the De Silva family, and after a few night caps, we slept very well in our van parked up in Raja and Edwina’s drive! We made a leisurely start, chatting over cups of tea – and then off we went. Lake Taupo the next stop. Thank you Lams – see you back in London!