Tale of Two Cities

I'm not sure Captain Cook had it this easy.

In order to get ourselves and our stuff to South Island, we set sail one early April morn.  Our ports of call, Wellington and Picton, contributed our on-going study in contrasts.  Two cities in the same country separated by the Cook Straight and different as night and day.

Rising into the hills above the harbor, Welly is reminiscent of a smaller San Francisco.

Lying at the bottom of the North, the capital city of Wellington is a hip uni town with a creative class and a population of about 180,000.  And if you want to catch a boat to South Island, you have to go through Wellington.  No complaints from us on that one as Welly has great museums, restaurants, bars, trendy shopping and entertainment venues.  Throw all that together and add the nation’s capital to the mix and Wellington is a world class city.  An interesting port of call.

The savoury muffins at Fidels are tops. Definitely one of the hippest streets in Welly.

Good bye North Island.

Traffic, be it foot, wheel or hoof moves between the Islands via two commercial shipping ferries.  We drove our ride on board just before 7AM among the other cars, semis and motorcycles and headed for Picton.  People are a bit part of what’s on board these vessels.  Livestock and freight trucks dwarfed our ute on one of the parking decks.  Who knows what other kinds of freight lay in the bowls of the ship.  An interesting concept and fact of life for a country divided by a channel of water that can’t be bridged.

Scenic ferrying at its best. Entering the Marlborough Sounds.

Hello South Island.

Lying at the top of the South, Picton is the port of call when entering New Zealand’s other half.  At just under 3,000 people, Picton feels very different than its counterpart to the north.  More of a tourist town because of the ferries, you don’t really go to Picton for what it has to offer, you go because that is where the boat takes you.  Not to say it is a bad place.  Nestled in the Marlborough Sounds among stunning hills and sparkling blue waters, Picton really is pretty.  There are plenty of vacation homes, called cribs on South Island, and a big as marina.  But by and large the businesses in Picton are there because of the ferry traffic.

Ethnic cuisine in sunny Picton? Looks like we're a little closer to home than we thought.

So began our tiki tour of South Island.  The differences in port cities are as great as the differences in the Islands.  It’s the theme of contrasts here in New Zealand.  That one constant; there will be something completely different just around the bend.   As a bloke in the Canterbury high country told me, “Two different countries really.”  I felt that driving off the ferry in Picton a month earlier.


4 thoughts on “Tale of Two Cities

  1. Hey, it just occurred to me that you guys have been in New Zealand forever. I had to go back in the archives to see that you’ve been there since last November. What kind of visa did you get? I noticed something about a working holiday orientation—which I guess explains it. I take it you both are under 30?

  2. Nope not under 30. There are a number of schemes for getting work permits in New Zealand. As we wanted to go the casual jobs route we sought the Working Holiday Visa. And being over 30 we had to go through a special agency. It seems a bit silly but not much of a choice. NZ has recently started a program for people to come for nine months and to look for permanent work. I believe the age limit there is higher. I heard a news report that immigration is down which is bad for NZ as a lot of natives leave so immigrating may become easier. BUNAC is the agency we used stateside. Their sister program (in NZ) is called IEP

  3. So sweet South Island!

    Although I spent only 4 days down there inclduing travelling between cities and going on tour, I just fall in love with the scene.

    Have you been travelled to Nelson and Christchurch? It is awesome there!

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