The early bus for Picton came by the hostel and I got on. Picton is the location of the ferry terminal at the north end of the south island. The ferry ride wasn’t too bad. I saw an albatross, but it was too far to photograph effectively. The wind picked up considerably the further north we went. By the time we docked in Wellington I felt like I could have flown away if I had spread out my coat. I didn’t try it, partly because I feared being blown off the deck, and partly because it was quite cold out.
Here’s a shot taken as the ferry enters the strait headed towards Wellington. In the background you can see the reason the Maori name for New Zealand (Aotearoa) translates to “Land of the Long White Cloud.”
I found a hostel close to the Wellington train terminal, and settled in. A glass of wine from the hostel’s bar and a few rounds of darts later, and I’d met a few of the residents, and began a long evening of playing pool.
Residents seemed to be divided into two groups: the travelers, and the “locals.” The travelers, myself included, were just passing through, and viewed the hostel as a place to stay along the way. The locals lived in the hostel, but were originally from all over, primarily British Commonwealth nations. They had long term jobs in and around Wellington, and used the hostel as home.
After a few games of pool with assorted folks, one wanted to keep playing, just because she loved the game. Erin would be considered one of the locals, who had recently arrived, but I don’t think she had landed a long term job yet. Her pool skills weren’t great, but she was good company and conversation. I tried to help her with a few tips on form and strategy. We played game after game, and she kept improving, to the point where she was winning about as often as I was. Perhaps the amount of wine consumed had something to do with that. Eventually, sometime around 3 or 4 the hostel bar shut down, and we went our separate ways.
On the 25th I woke, and given the time of my rising, realized that there was no way I was going to catch a bus all the way to Aukland, and find a place to stay on Christmas day. I had noticed in the last couple of hostels signs indicating that there would be no check-ins or check-outs on the 25th. So that meant that I was staying put.
The hostel was nearly empty with the exception of the locals, and I was invited to join in their Holiday dinner. They cooked up a storm and all I could do was help move the tables and chairs around to get everyone a space. Turkey, several different stuffings, potatoes, mashed and baked, pasta, beans… It was a huge and yummy feast. There must have been thirty people there. I should have taken pictures.
Good food, good people, that’s what holidays are all about.
The next day I headed out early on the bus back to Aukland.