NZ: Day 5
We were packed and ready to join the new bus towards the North Island.
Our experience diving with dolphins in Kaikoura was amazing and put us in a great mood heading towards the North Island.
Once again the bus was at full capacity, but, now that we were a little more organised- thanks to a few days off the bus and with plenty of advice ringing through our ears from other Kiwi Experience goers- we were to remain with this current group all the way up to Auckland.
Our driver ‘Q’, was your typical broad and menacing looking Maori- but like most Kiwi’s he was pretty cool. He had been doing the Kiwi for years and sorted us out an ideal itinerary for the next few weeks, which following his advice, we rang in to head office and nailed down our seats.
The Kiwi E gets really busy during Summer months so to avoid not getting on a bus you need to have a seat reserved a few days ahead; As we found out most people didn’t do this and were stuck in certain places for a few days- we wanted to make sure this wasn’t going to be the case.
We left Kaikoura hugging the coastline the whole way up to the North.
About a half hour outside Kaikoura we pulled over at a seal colony to have a look and take photos.
° ° °
We reached Picton at the Northernmost tip of the South Island. Here, we were to board the ferry- a 3 hour trip through the Marlborough Sounds to Wellington in the North Island. After we chicked our begs in we headed beck to meet Q at the chicken disk who hid are tickits- a bit of New Zealand lingo for you! I think it cost us $45 for the ferry ticket.
The weather had turned miserable and thus despite most people queued up on the top deck with cameras in hand, it wasn’t particularly pleasant. We still have to do a return leg of the ferry journey at a later point so hopefully the weather will be better on the second attempt as the sounds, a series of sunken valleys and island peninsulas are said to be pretty stunning.
A few hours later, we had reached Wellington- the capital of New Zealand and famed for its high winds. In-fact, it wasn’t windy at all and the weather had lifted.
The city was however teeming with people in some of the most absurd fancy dress costumes I’ve ever seen and, having gone through three years of Uni and attending the World Darts series in London, I’ve seen a few. The reason for this was the Rugby 7’s World Tournament which was currently being held in the city.
We had arrived fairly late into the capital, so didn’t have time to go out and get our own fancy dress costumes to partake in the ongoing street and bar celebrations. Instead, we had to improvise with face-paints, before taking to some of the bars across the highstreet and there are a lot of them- Wellington has about 400 bars, restaurants and cafes! Being a part of any large festival atmosphere and landmark occasion is always great and we had a blast!
The next morning, when we eventually woke up, we were back on the bus and headed North up towards Taupo.
There wasn’t much point staying on an extra few nights at this point as we had to come back and do Wellington again in a week’s time or so. Also, because of the Rugby Tournament, all the hostels were sold out and those that weren’t were charging $60 upwards per night.
This highlights another benefit of the Kiwi-E; You always get one night guaranteed at each destination. No matter how busy they are the hostels have spaces reserved for the bus; They also charge the normal price as opposed to the elevated prices for such occasions.
Also we stayed at the Base Hostel in Wellington- the first of 6 Base Hostels on our New Zealand adventure and a pretty lively, basic hostel: Because the Kiwi-E tend to stay at so many Base Hostels I would recommend getting the Base Jumper Card– giving you 10 nights accommodation for $259 NZ- probably saving you one or two nights accommodation.
Base Hostel, $28 NZ / £14 p/n: **
Ferry Ticket: $45 One Way/ £22 ***
Base Jumper Card: $259/ £130 ***