Night here is complete. The darkness envelopes you like a warm, soft blanket you might hide under as a kid. The only lights are the headlights on your car, showing you only what you need to see and the winding black ribbon of road twists and turns guiding you on to your destination. Nautical twilight is soon approaching, giving us a small glimpse of the sea by our side. We see a strange fragment of light over the mountains in the ocean, but we are deceived. The day brightens slightly, just enough for us to tell that those mountains are clouds and the light is a small sliver of the moon. The sun yawns and stretches as it struggles to awaken while the moon continues its journey downwards. Dawn is slow to come, preceded by the redness of the high clouds and the faintest of blue in the sky. Our road takes us inland and we see only the faint outline of the hills of Marlborough that we traveled over to Karikoura. The mists beckon and we surge into their arms as they dance around us showing the promise of goblins, fairies and the mysteries of the fog. Mysterious shapes pass us, seemingly wrapping themselves in their heavy cloak of darkness, embarrassed to be seen by humans. This is the magic of a New Zealand morning.
The ride to Picton from Kaikoura took us 2 hours and we arrive to see a huge ferry awaiting us, the Inter Islander ferry. It will hold 600 cars and take us 3 hours north across the Cook straight to the town of Wellington. The bay was quiet as it was early, moored boats floating in all directions in the windless waters.
We walk onto the ferry with our bags as we cannot take our rental car to the north island. We had upgraded to the Premium Plus Lounge and it was well worth it. We could leave the luggage we carried on in safety and walk outside to watch the views. They also served breakfast that was included in the price and had comfy couches. Since this was not a busy time of year there were only about 12 people in a lounge designed to hold about 30 or so.
The mists and fog were still dancing around the mountains as this very large ferry carefully maneuvered through the islands, the sun glinting off the water. Small clusters of houses gathered at the shore to peek through the fog and watch us pass by. Occasionally a house stood alone, accessible only by boat, a promise of peace and serenity.
As the boat approaches the end of our inland journey, the mists disappear and the way forward is wide open, the promise of smooth sailing ahead.
We arrive in Wellington, a bustling city. Our first look at the city showed us a lot of cargo ships anchored and a ship loading up a vast amount of logs. A bustling port! We had to rent another car and they picked us up at the ferry port. We drove a bit to the other side of the city, capturing a few glimpses of the strange street names. It was a nice and rather uneventful crossing and we have a 5-hour drive ahead of us to our next destination, New Plymouth, and I feel like we are leaving the magic behind us.