We boarded the ferry, previously christened "Spirit of Cherbourg," as the raised letters were still visible beneath the whitewash coat...even though the boat's new name was painted in blue over the top of the old name. Seemed like a sloppy way to remane a boat, like painting "Walmart" over an old "Target" sign. The first stop was breakfast in the cafeteria, and we were able to get a table with a window view. So we stayed there for the entire three-plus hour cruise. I used the time to catch up my journal, stopping every so often to look at the dark green mountains crashing into the clean water under the sunny blue sky. It seemed like an endless series of undulating ridgelines just kept on rolling by. Kacey thought she saw a dolphin, but I didn't see any.
The ferry landed and we claimed our backpacks from a carousel like they use at airports, but it was chock full of everyone else's backpacks, too. We picked up our car, which had been upgraded for free to a sporty silver job that handled and felt so much better than our previous car on the North Island. We followed the scenic Queen Charlotte's highway across thr north coastline, winding in and out of bays on roads that had more curves than any I can remember driving. With much less traffic on the South Island, it was much more fun to drive. Almost car-commercial quality of driver enjoyment.
We stopped in Nelson for food, a turkish place that served the veggiest falafel kabobs I've had and used the uncommon "bench seat around a long table" configuration. You could probably fit 12 people on the cushions and a fancy spread in the middle. The kabobs weren't the best, but they hit the spot. We drove a little more: Motueka was today's destination. Stayed in the Abel Tasman hotel, which looks like a restaurnat that was converted for lodging. And it was now getting very cold. We walked the length of the town in about 20 minutes, up and back looking for a place to eat. There's a KFC, but we chose a diner called 'Mooring.' The interesting feature here was that you order your meal at the counter after taking your seat. The order of operations seemed all wrong, but we suppose it's due to the lack of manpower in town to fill waiting jobs.
The sunsets here are gorgeous, purlple & pink in the northern sky. Very small town, but the scent of wood fires also lingers in the air. We got our stuff laid out for tomorrow so that we could sleep in as late as possible tonight/morning. With it turning dark so early, it feels much later since three hours after sunset could be 8pm here or 10pm back in the northern hemisphere. But the air and water are so much cleaner, I'll take being tired so that I can enjoy them.