After beautiful Kaiteriteri and Abel Tasman, we got back on the road and drove to Picton to catch the Interislander ferry to the North Island, arriving in Wellington. We had been to Picton on a trip almost two years ago, but on that trip we had flown to nearby Blenheim. This time, our plan was to take the ferry to get to the North Island. Picton is a little town with a port situated on the Marlborough Sounds, which is an area of inlets, peninsulas, and islands.
From Picton, the ferry travels through the Marlborough Sounds and across Cook Strait to get to Wellington. We ended up with fair weather for the Cook Strait crossing, where the seas are often rough. The ferry takes about 3 hours to cross, and rather than a small ferry boat, you travel on a large ship that is important to transport and cargo shipping between the two islands. The ferry has a big playground for kids and many levels to explore, so it was a great way to travel with young kids.
In Wellington, we spent two nights in a great holiday house with a decent view of Wellington Harbour. We spent parts of two days exploring Te Papa museum, which is New Zealand's national museum and is spectacular! We really loved Te Papa and could have spent many more hours there. We also took a cable car ride up to the botanical gardens, which have a wonderful view of Wellington City. While at the gardens, we enjoyed the kids playground.
After a couple great days in Wellington, we were ready to put the close on our trip. I caught a 1 hour flight home to Auckland with Trent. We planned my flight all along because we thought best to make the last part of the trip quicker for Trent. Fortunately, I made a flight in the morning, despite making an incorrect booking for 12 hours later than what I thought I was booking (I blamed my mistake on sleep deprivation).
Everyone else jumped back in the minivan and made the rest of the journey by road. Because Max and Maya were tired of car travel, we got them some toys (some of which were early birthday presents from Lynne and Patsy) to help them endure the rest of the drive. They drove 5-6 hours the first day and spent the night in Rotorua. Then they drove another 4-5 hours (counting a few sightseeing side trips) to get back to Auckland. We had a fabulous trip and were ready to be home again. Lynne and Patsy enjoyed another few days with us in Auckland before catching a flight to Australia where they spent another 3 weeks before flying back to Utah.
|On a short hike on Queen Charlotte Sound.|
|Map showing the ferry route.|
|Patsy on the flying fox, which is what they call a zip line in NZ. Flying foxes are very common to see at playgrounds in NZ.|
|Maya with her new toy baby that she named "Baby Lollipop".|
|Modern styled Maori marae (meetinghouse) at Te Papa.|
|Traditional marae at Te Papa.|
|Maori carvings at Te Papa.|
|They loved the stars on the ground.|
|At Te Papa.|
|At Te Papa.|
|Playground at the Wellington Botanical Gardens.|
|Cable car ride.|
|Walking through Wellington.|
|Playground at Lake Tarawera, near Rotorua.|
|Lake Tarawera, Rotorua.|