The trip to the South Island began in spectacular fashion as the bus driver swerved illegally over to the curb to collect me as I ran out of the Wellington YHA. I hadn’t slept in. Far from it – I’d actually been killing time looking over my photos, and just happened to kill a little too much of it. This earned me fame throughout the bus, and probably gave the driver – who was new, both to us and to Kiwi Experience – a taste of the sort of incompetence to be expected of passengers in the future.
The journey proceeded with far more organisation from then on. The ferry was “full”, which essentially means that half the passengers don’t get seats because the seating arrangement of the other passengers leaves numerous small gaps, not sufficient to seat groups of people. Throughout the voyage the decks were thick with people who looked like they might be in search of the Promised Seating Area. We reclined instead on a couch and several arm chairs arranged between the toilets and the pay phones, and attempted to acquire some more sleep. The view from the top deck wasn’t all that exciting.
The ferry dropped us off at Picton, where we waited a bit for another Kiwi Experience bus to turn up. It did, and it turned out to be the oldest bus in the fleet, much to the annoyance of the driver. The drive to Nelson was fairly uneventful.
Nelson’s prominant tourist attraction appears to be the geometric centre of New Zealand, which is situated on the top of a hill overlooking the town. I was a little sceptical of this. It’s not obvious how the geometric centre of a shape as complex as a pair of islands can be calculated definitively (I can think of several different methods, which would all give you different answers), or why it should correspond exactly with the summit of a hill. Nevertheless, the view was well worth the climb, and we watched the sunset from the top.
The hostel was a nice little establishment, as practically all non-Base hostels seem to be. However, they were a little narky about me eating my own food in the outdoor restaurant area. I had to retreat several metres to the outdoor hostel eating area, which is (as far as I could tell) on the same property and owned by the same people.