Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Zealand December 2011 - InterIslander Ferry And Wellington

***This post is part 12 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***  

After a quick one-night stay in Picton, we arrived the next morning at the InterIslander ferry terminal for our three-hour boat ride across the Cook Strait. Much like an airport terminal, there was a check-in counter, baggage drop-off, and gate area (otherwise known as a gangway for ships).

It was also very convenient that several of the larger car rental companies had offices inside the terminal, so all we had to do was leave our rental car in the parking lot and drop the keys off at the Apex counter. We also could have paid a little extra and just ferried our rental car across the strait, but we figured we really didn't need a car for our one-night stay in Wellington anyway.

Upstairs near the gangway, there were a couple of fast food outlets and a large waiting area with plenty of tables. My only complaint is that there was nowhere to take pictures of the actual ship. Only as you start walking up the gangway while boarding can you catch some partial views.

The Aratere

Once inside, I was surprised at how big the ship was. I have never been on a cruise liner before, but I'd imagine it would look something like this. Each section featured different types of seating arrangements, from comfortable couches large enough to sprawl out on, to dining booths for eating. Towards the center of the ship was a small cafeteria that offered a decent cook-to-order menu as well as pre-made options such as salads and sandwiches. The forward section featured a bar area with plenty of television sets and lounge chairs.

I forgot to mention that it hadn't stopped raining for even a minute since we left Abel Tasman. In fact, the rain only got worse as time went on. The nasty weather also meant we would experience some rougher seas during the crossing, and that was definitely the case. I had thought for such a large ship, we'd hardly feel the waves at all... but boy was I wrong. I'm typically quite prone to motion sickness, so as soon as we hit the open seas, everything starting rocking and the nausea immediately hit.

I went to the outside deck to grab some fresh air, but it was so windy that the rain was literally coming in sideways. Luckily, the cafeteria had some awesome ginger beer (imagine ginger ale, but stronger), and that definitely helped with the nausea. It was actually very tasty as well... I'll have to look for some next time I head to the supermarket!

Nasty weather outside

Awesome ginger beer inside

Three hours went by fairly quickly with onboard WiFi and comfortable couches, and soon we were docking in Wellington. We picked up our checked luggage and hopped on a taxi for the 10-minute ride to the InterContinental Wellington.

Approaching Wellington

Unfortuantely, the weather just kept getting progressively worse as the afternoon wore on. We had booked tickets to Zealandia that evening to see their famous kiwi habitat, but those plans had to be scrapped, of course, since it was windy and pouring outside. Instead, the only thing we did do in Wellington was walk (more like run as fast as we could) to Queen's Wharf and have dinner at Dockside Restaurant, which was absolutely delicious. I think their seafood chowder was probably the best I've ever tasted.

Pretty much all I got to see of Wellington

Green-lipped mussels

Seafood chowder

Lamb rump roast

It was a real bummer not being able to explore Wellington due to weather. I had heard many people say it reminded them of San Francisco, so I was excited to see for myself. Maybe when I return in a few years!

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