February 15, 2016
Since we are 21 hours ahead of California time, today is the actual Valentine’s Day story. We left the Castle and headed towards Picton in the Marlborough province where we will catch the ferry to Wellington on the North Island. Getting there was straight forward. We wound up a mountain and down a mountain with a couple hundred turns up and down. We shared the road with plenty of logging trucks. It was actually a pretty easy drive.
Our first stop was at the Pelorus Bridge. The bridge spans the Pelorus River. It is one lane and their is a pedestrian walkway that keeps you out from under the wheels of the logging trucks. Unfortunately, there are signs to not lean or touch the hand rail as it is due for repairs. So you walk along as the heavy trucks shake and rattle the bridge and you try to not touch the fragile hand rail. We made it. Peggy even managed to get some pictures of the incredibly clear water.
There was a short trail to a cool suspension bridge. We crossed a couple times before heading back to the the parking lot. We then traipsed down to the river. The Rocky beach was empty as today is a Monday. We could see where families had build small pools for the little ones. The water was even fairly warm but this was not a swimming day for us. We drove a little to the port of Havelock on the sound. It advertises itself as the Green Lipped Mussel Capitol of the World. I won’t disagree. There were green mussels crawling all over the buildings. It was a short but good stop.
The major sight for day was the drive along Queen Charlotte Drive between Havelock and It is some 50 kilometers of twisting narrow road filled with gawkers like us. It was actually a piece of cake. And while the drive was beautiful along the coast, it lacked the drama of the road between Greymouth and Westport. We stopped for pictures and bathrooms. The Kiwis provide excellent public restrooms. They are by far the best we have found traveling. They are also free.
The region was name Queen Charlotte Sound by Captain Cook in thanks for her support and interest in establishing the Kew Gardens in London. These famous botanical gardens were the show place for the botanic discoveries of the great explorer Cook. The Queen was the wife of George III from whom the colonies rebelled. Charlotte and George managed 15 children before he became looney. She had her name given to places all around the Pacific by Cook and others including much of the coast of British Columbia. Sometimes it is good to be the Queen.
We stopped for lunch overlooking Picton Harbor and the ferry we will take tomorrow morning. It was busy and very enjoyable to watch. My opinion may change when we are in the boarding area with our car. The town is essentially the harbor and a Main Street. After unpacking we started to explore. I believe we went in almost every shop. Bobbie found her ring and Peggy found essential gifts. I found a good ice cream place that we all enjoyed. Happy Valentine’s Day. I have the chicken on the barbecue and other guests are lining up and waiting to be served. It may be a diplomatic crisis.