Picton Travel Blog› entry 11 of 20 › view all entries
We caught the Bluebridge ferry from Wellington to Picton today, crossing over to the South Island after about one month and almost 4000kms of travel! We booked the ferry about a month ago ($218 for 2 people and a car) because fellow travellers said they'd had a bit of trouble leaving it until closer to the journey. It can be booked on the internet, so not difficult to do - tourist info centres will also book it for you. We left plenty of time to get to the ferry from Otaki because of the roadworks, but this time there were no delays so got there nice and early. The crossing is notorious for being quite rough, but this time was pretty smooth.
OUr next day was spent mostly around Blenheim visiting wineries. We went first to Montana (also owned by Pernod Ricard), which is a large operation and did tours ($12pp but you can get 2-for-1 with the ad from the AA guide). The tour was pretty brief and included a tasting of 4 wines, but it was essentially a tasting lesson so not much we didn't already know. Probably not really worth $12 each when you get free tastings anyway! The restaurant looked very nice, and we wished we'd had lunch there because one of the better value ones we saw! After visiting Cloudy Bay Winery (very basic facilities and wines not that impressive) we ended up at Wairau River Winery for lunch - lovely food but on the pricey side if you're watching your budget. Lovely atmosphere, though. Then headed back to Picton via Havelock and the Queen Charlotte Road - another windy but very scenic road from which you get great views of Picton as you come down the hill.
On our final morning we did a cruise on Queen Charlotte Sound ($70pp less a 10% YHA discount, so $63 each). The weather was lousy, but we still enjoyed it as it showed another side of the scenery. At one point the storm was so bad we had huge hailstones falling on the back deck of the boat, and we heard on the radio that a couple of the resorts had been struck by lightning and lost their power - quite exciting actually! The trip went for about 3 hours and delivered trampers (hikers) to the more remote parts of the Queen Charlotte Track as well as people to and from the resorts. We then went home for a rest because our tummies were still not that well!