Our final day in Golden Bay was quiet — rain was in the forecast, but it mostly held off. Gen, Jonah, Tim and I went beach combing for awhile at Pohara Beach — were amazed by the speed of the tide moving out, and by the fact that what we’d thought from a distance were stones on the beach were actually millions of shells. I loved the colours of the rocks and driftwood.
On the way back, we stopped for a coffee (always $4.50) at the “Espresso Ship” — a rough-looking vessel that we were told used to belong to Jacques Cousteau, now used as an apartment for a young couple and their new puppy Bruce. The proprietor warned us our drive to the ferry would be bad. We thought he meant dangerous or wet — he meant too many speed traps. The road is marked at 100km/hour and is hopelessly windy — we’re not worried about speeding tickets. The boat is for sale if anyone’s interested. I guess demand for a delicious latte on a ship with no engine at the marina in Pohara is low in the off season.
We wandered the town of Takaka in the afternoon. A tiny place with a disproportionate number of studios and galleries. And a cinema with hand-written movie posters.
The next day we were up at 4:30 to travel to Picton to catch a ferry to the North Island of New Zealand. The crew here is becoming expert at getting our home exchanges places cleaned up and our bags packed, and despite the car being crowded for the long and windy trip, they were troopers. We were joking that Tim had “levelled up”on a real-life video game — not only did he have to drive back over the Takaka Hill (a fantastic understatement — we’ve seen T-shirts that say, ‘It’s a hill — get over it’ — but it has 16 switchbacks on one side and takes about 45 minutes to go up and down), but this time he had to tackle it tired, in the dark, fog and rain, dodging boulders along the way that had washed down from the steep banks during storms. Not easy. He handled it like a pro rally driver.
We checked in at the ferry in time to check out the local bakery (we’re becoming too good at that –pastries are everywhere!). The swells were quite something on the ship — we weren’t at our most energetic and learned later it’s one of the roughest sections of seas in the world — but enjoyed our picnic of salad and leftover lamb and salmon before arriving into Wellington, NZ’s capital on the south tip of the North Island, around 2:00.