We had to get up at 5.30 am in order to catch out 7 am bus.
We consoled ourselves by saying we would sleep on the bus, but instead we spent the whole ride – about 5 hours excitedly pointing interesting things in the window to each other. As our road was along the coast, we saw some seals sunbathing on the rocks. We saw fog laying low on the road. We saw countless vineyards, wind turbines and pastures. Mike even says he saw a wallaby hop by!
We made a short stop in Kaikoura and we instantly regretted not planning a stay there – not only it is the best place to see whales but it seemed like a very charming yet lively seaside town. We stretched out legs by walking to the beach and eating our snacks there (as no food or drink except water were allowed on the bus) and I made friends with a curious local dog
When we arrived to Picton it was still the middle of the day. We walked around waterfront where most tour companies have their offices offering sea kayaking, dolphin watch tours and water taxi services. We even caught a performance of traditional Maori songs.
We were really keen to go on a kayaking tour, but the weather forecast for the following day wasn`t promising. Another popular option was to go on a hike along Queen Charlotte track which is a 71-km walk along mountain ridges and through bushes offering spectacular views. It usually takes several days to walk along the entire route, but there are other options – for example, taking a water taxi from Picton to one point of the track, walking for half a day and then being picked up and taken back to Picton. In the end, we couldn`t commit to anything in case the weather was as bad as the forecast promised and decided to play it by the ear the following day. So we bought some food and headed back to our lovely hostel. This was the best hostel we had stayed at so far. It was one of YHA hostels called Wedgewood house and consisted of several little houses joined together. In our section there were just two rooms – ours and a dorm-style room with 2 bunk beds, a cute living room and a kitchen.
The only fly in the ointment was this notice:
Every time someone came through the door and knocked I would start and stare at the door suspiciously. At this point we were sitting in the communal living room, getting ready to play Scrabble with our housemates, so after a third time they asked me what all that jumping and staring was about and I pointed at the poster (in the main house there was even a photo of the thief above reception). They laughed it off but they did study newcomers extra carefully nonetheless. We had a good time playing Scrabble and chatting
Oh, and in case you didn`t know how to make your bed, here is a useful poster from the hostel