They say you can’t beat Wellington on a good day. And although it’s been a while since I visited the capital, the old adage never rang truer. It was one of those bluebird kind of days where the city seemed to hum, the harbour sparkled in the sunlight, and everyone seemed in good spirits.
A shame we’d only be in town for less than an hour then! Hubby and teenager in tow, we were passing through Wellington on our way south, and, along the way, wanted to tick off an iconic Kiwi experience—a cruise across the Cook Strait.
Having booked the 1.30pm Bluebridge Ferry crossing, we expected to arrive in Picton at around 5.30pm, giving us four hours to taste a little of the hospitality on-board. Feeling a little hungry, we headed directly to the cafe to order lunch.
The menu didn’t disappoint. We opted to share a seafood medley, with fish and chips for the teenager. The chips, by the way, were seriously good—crispy and golden. Yum! There’s also plenty of cabinet food to choose from, and the coffee isn’t half bad either. And, just as importantly, the cafe staff and baristas were friendly (and more than happy to pose for a quick photo!).
Our crossing was in the comfort of Bluebridge’s MV Straitsman, which was built in 2005 and includes eco-friendly features such as environmentally safe hull paint, on-board recycling, fuel efficiency features, and a system that utilises waste energy from the engines to heat water.
Having enjoyed a seafood lunch, we headed outside and ascended to the very top deck. The ocean was millpond still, and, with the Marlborough Sounds looming large on both sides as we neared Picton, it was hard to imagine anywhere better to spend a summer afternoon.
That’s not to say the crossing is always so serene. It can get very choppy, but thankfully, today’s modern fleet of Cook Strait ferries are built to take a fair hammering from rough seas. Still, I’ll stick to blue skies and millponds, thanks.
We were more than happy to sit outside, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the views. But for those who prefer to catch up on some sleep (or work) along the way, private cabins are a good option. All cabins have air conditioning, power points and free Wi-Fi, desks and chairs and, of course, a bed. You can also book twin or family rooms.
In my mind’s eye, I always imagined the crossing to be short on scenery until the last half hour or so. Just a vast expanse of ocean. But Wellington’s hilly landscape seems to stretch on and on, and when it does finally ebb away, the Marlborough Sounds quickly materialise before you.
As we cruised toward Picton, bay after beautiful bay drifts past, each one dotted with rustic baches and cottages, boaties out on the water living the Kiwi dream, and the occasional kayaker paddling lazily around the coastline. It seems you can’t beat Picton on a good day either!
Book online at bluebridge.co.nz. Bluebridge also offers Airpoints; earn one Airpoint dollar for every $75 you spend on a ferry booking (T&Cs apply).
Win tickets abroad the Bluebridge
Win tickets for two adults, including a motorhome, aboard Bluebridge from either Picton or Wellington.
Competition ends 6 April 2018.