The ferry that took us over was so much bigger and nicer than the one that travels between Upolu and Savaii. How big was this ferry? It was big enough to hold a semi-truck with two cabins attached to it. The ferry (Blue Islander) had a main cabin with plush seats like you would find on an airplane. There was also a café with a bar and sleeping cabins – so it had a lot of nice features for a 3 hour trip. 3 hours! Yes, because in order to get to the South Island harbor of Picton the boat has to go through this maze of water and land so the trip is longer than the Upolu/Savaii trip. After taking a few shots of us leaving the North Island, I went to one of the empty cabins and took a much needed nap. I think it was the first time I slept well on the high seas – there wasn't a whole lot of sea tossing, which was welcomed on my part.
3 hours later we arrived in the sleepy metropolis of Picton. There we got off the boat, collected our luggage (they check your luggage like on a plane but somehow the luggage arrived well ahead of us because it was waiting for us at the ferry terminal) and walked across the street to get our new vehicle for the South Island. Then we were off to the city of Bleinheim to the south of Picton. Our first goal on the South Island? Find a bar that had ESPN so we could watch the two Saturday wild card games (Josh and I are dedicated!). We found this bar called "Grovers Tavern" which let us watch the first screen on a big screen. Only when we turned on the game did Indy start scoring points, so Peyton knew I was watching him. After the not so great first game, we got back in the car and began our two hour drive to Nelson (which gets the most sunshine in NZ, but today was cloudy so I couldn't tell you if that was true). We made it there and looked for another bar to watch the Dallas/Seattle game. We found a great bar that not only was showing it but gave us our own private room with a TV! It was great and the game was definitely worth the stop.
Our NFL appetite satisfied, we left Nelson and headed north towards the town of Moteuka which is a great place to start from to visit the Abel Tasman National Park. We arrived in Moteuka about 30 mins later and found a nice hostel (Baker's Lodge) to stay in. After taking a nice shower, we went out and grabbed some groceries to make dinner. Once dinner was cooked and eaten, I started talking to some of the other hostel residents. I met an interesting Canadian woman who was in her late 30s who was spending 3 months just walking many of the national parks in NZ. After my one day of hiking at Tongariro, my body was kaput so it was extremely interesting talking to someone who just loved to hike the outdoors. In fact, that same day she had just come from a 9 day hike in Abel Tasman National Park. I also met two guys from Israel who are in NZ looking for work to fund their travels. Kevin is doing the same thing once he's done traveling with us so he got some good advice from the guys because they have already worked here for a month.
Now that we are on the South Island, it's time to see what it has to offer – tomorrow we check out a bit of Abel Tasman (no bike hike though) and then take the 6 hour journey to the second major city in NZ – Christchurch.