South to North via the Cook Strait

From where I last left off in Nelson, we made a brief stop in the Wairau valley for some wine tasting on the way to the ferry in Picton. If you're planning a similar trip, my advice is to get to the ferry early if you want a seat in the main cabin. I was surprised at how crowded it was. I'd also recommend getting out on the deck to take in the views of the Queen Charlotte Sound leaving Picton. The crossing between the islands was quite windy so we frequently returned to the stairwell for shelter.

The city of Wellington was nice, but we didn't stick around long. New Zealand's cities are pretty much like cities anywhere else, so my camera stayed in its case. Crossing from the south to the north you quickly realize you're in a much more densely populated place. We hit the road early to see Kaitoke regional park just outside the city where the Rivendell scenes of LOTR were filmed. That's where we encountered the first movie tour buses, and an elf (of the German persuasion). Kaitoke was quite lush. The ferns there were particularly stunning. 

Near the end of our day we made a beach stop to get out and stretch. The next day was going to be a long day of trekking up volcanos, but I'll tell you about that next week.