Thursday, January 12, 2012

5 January 2012: Ferry crossing of Cook Strait

After our last day in Wellington, we took the Interislander Ferry from the North Island, leaving from Wellington, to the South Island, arriving in Picton.  A ‘southeasterly’ (winds blowing from the southeast of the country) a brewed-up overnight, and leaving Wellington’s harbor looked like it would be a daunting crossing: some passages of Cook Strait have included swells of 30ft and a crossing time of 8-10 hrs!  Today we’d see none of the rough sees; just a little rain leaving the harbor and 40 mph winds ripping across the deck seating (where Dr. Moran and I sat for the ~3 hr crossing).  Due to the strong winds, I didn’t see as many birds navigating the strait as I did during my previous time in New Zealand, which was disappointing.  Last time, albatross, petrels, and gulls flew past the ferry last time and gave me a glimpse of what I would see around the Dunedin area.  This time, the strong winds only offered white caps and sea spray and insight into how harsh life on the sea can be.

As we entered Queen Charlotte Sound on the South Island, the weather cleared and we were treated to a phenomenal view of small islands and green-blue waters of the sound.  Our students, who spent the majority of the trip below deck, made their way to the deck for some summer sun and stunning views.  After a semi-gloomy week on the North Island, this sun was welcomed by all!

Once in Picton, we grabbed a bite to eat, including some ice cream, wandered down to the beach for a short view of the summer we all expected to find in New Zealand, and then we were off to Nelson. 

Looking toward the South Island riding the Interislander Ferry through the Cook Strait. Notice the whitecaps in the water!

Looking at a commercial mussel operation in Queen Charlotte Sound.

Dr. Moran walking toward the beach in Picton.

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