So, after the party, I geared up to move out.

I finished up some work while I still was on the grid, and did an evening crossing: 6:30pm to 9:30pm. The ship was massive – they have train rails on the lower deck (where I was parked) to move entire trains on board. As it was, many tractor trailers – some of them tandems – were pulled straight onto the decks.

the ferry

evening arrival in Picton

The crossing was uneventful and smooth (unusual) with not even teeny waves to speak of. We pulled in to Picton, the arrival area, and I drove about an hour in the dark to Blenheim, the gateway to the north part of the South Island’s wine region. I sneakily snuck an evening’s rest in, parked on a semi-residential road among the cars for a hostel (which they call a ‘backpackers’ here).

I rose the next morning early, relocated to a point on the nice park-like village square to get a little work done, and then headed off for a full day’s driving to make some distance toward my next destination, the glaciers.

Blenheim's town square, alongside which I parked up to get some work done before roadtripping again.

My selected mid-point was Hokitika along the coast – about a 350 kilometer drive. A good day for rain, since I was inside anyway.

rainy, moody drive

my first Alpine glimpse

I made it to Hokitika in good time, set up shop on the beach – oddly, in simultaneous view of both alpine mountains while ON the shore – and worked until my batteries died (at which point I started up the car, plugged into the cigarette lighter, and finished my last article).

Hokitika beach

view of the evening's office, beach-ward

view of the evening's office, Alps-ward

I attempted to go see a ‘glow worm’ dell just on the noth side of town, but either the rain had dampened the little guys out, or I wasn’t there late enough. However, the OTHER fork in the path led to a hilltop view of the entire town, the setting sun, and the cow pastures with prime seaside real estate.

sunset over Hokitika

I wanted to keep some daylight, though, because I’d found a department of Conservation (DOC – like our Parks Service) campground nearby that i wanted to try to sleep at. These places, when convenient to one’s touring location, are the BOMB. Usually they offer pit or on-site treating toilets, running water (though cold), and usually a small trash or recycling station – you drive up, fill out an envelope with your car’s details, and drop the envelope with your payment into a small box for eventual collection. Thus far, each of these sites I’ve stayed at has been $6 per night (and that’s NZ dollars, so figure, $4.50 or so?)  A bargain to sleep in peace and quiet in a lovely location. This first night I found the place -which I’d been worried was going to be full; you can see I was wrong.

Lake Mahinapua DOC campground - in high season (that's me in the middle)

Lake Mahinapua itself, just at the base of the campground (though not visible from sites). Unfortunately, it was too dark when I arrived to take a pic, and the morning cloud cover you see here is obscuring the dramatic dark and snow-covered (big!!!) mountains that would be the backdrop here.

I cooked myself a quick thing of soup and made a sandwich, and got ready for bed. The only problem was, near the lovely lake as I was, it was skeeter heaven. I could not at first place the high pitched whining – thought it was someone’s generator – until I shone my small reading light up at the ceiling and saw the thick cloud of mozzies just waiting to chomp on me. Agh! Thankfully they were slow and after about a half hour’s bloody battle, I’d smushed most of them onto the fuzzy light grey ceiling of the car (now spotted like a Dalmatian with skeeters) or had smacked them and their little carcasses littered all open surfaces of the car. I slept like a log and awoke the next morning raring to get to glacier 1, Franz Josef Glacier.