|Franz Josef to Picton|
After the drama of the morning in Franz Josef, we packed up in the afternoon to head to Greymouth a couple of hundred kilometers further up the coast in the hope of cutting some time of the following day’s journey to Picton.
We left Franz Josef in glorious sunshine and blue skies and by the end of the afternoon we had arrived in Greymouth that was living up to its name. The rain lashed down from the dirtiest of skies, grey clouds blurring the lines between skies and the ocean horizons. Maybe we caught it on a bad day, maybe I’m being unfair, but Greymouth looks like a town that time has forgotten. A 1920s seaside down that has been deteriorating ever since that heyday.
We walked the streets in the rain looking for somewhere to eat, and it’s no exaggeration to say that we walked them alone, not a soul joined us in braving the admittedly shocking weather. After declining the culinary delights of a couple of pubs that had seen better days, we settled on the only place that didn’t look like a fire hazard. A quickly scoffed meal later we headed back to our van that was taking a battering beachside to take shelter for the night - as much from the eeriness of Greymouth itself as the weather.
Not so bright but definitely early the following morning, we packed up and hit the road again, North East away from the coast, towards Marlborough and onto Picton.
We finally had a journey that didn’t mostly comprise of a rally course. While some stretches of highway were even straight, that didn’t take away from the drama of the surroundings. Once we pulled away from the mountains we were into wine country, acres and acres of vineyards left and right, in front and behind, as far as the eye could see.
The sun and blue sky returned just as the countryside turned to velvet. Rolling hills of various shades of greens, yellows and browns guided us all the way into town.
Picton itself is lovely. If I were to be mean I could say it is what Greymouth should be. It’s a port town, spic and span, with plenty of life about the place. Only having the evening there before the ferry crossing in the morning, we made a bee line to the port and its park to let Sanne have a well deserved run around.
While we were tending to our daughter’s needs as if she were a cocker spaniel we struck up a conversation with a man pushing his daughter on the swings. If there ever was an example of how open and chatty the Kiwis are it was this, within 10 minutes we had his life story, not long returned after 10 years working in Australia, he now had sole custody of his 2 and a half year old daughter after her mother had just upped and left. It was one of those meetings that you think back on ten or twenty years later and wonder how their life will have worked out.
We settled down for the night once again after a day and a half of driving, happy in the knowledge that with the exception of a getting the van on and off the ferry in the morning, we had a few days on solid ground ahead of us.
Tomorrow we would leave the epic South island behind and cross the Cook Straight to New Zealand’s capital – Wellington.