Day 12: Cook Strait & Nelson
An interesting thing happens after spending day after day viewing increadible scenery, one begins to "desensitize" to it or something. You think you've seen the most amazing sights you'll ever see. You've stood so in awe and you don't think another thing could possibly top it. But not in New Zealand. The amazement just keeps coming and coming.
Today, I crossed over to the South Island. The ferry runs from Wellington to Picton and takes approximately 3 hours. I took the first ferry of the morning at 9 AM. The weather was perfect, the skies were clear, and the seas were calm (just a few days ago the ferries were canceled due to swells so I was relieved.). Traveling through the fjords into the South Island was mesmerizing. The water was aqua blue, seals and Dolphins leapt alongside the boat, millions of jellyfish floated on the water. It was like some kind of Disney nature documentary! I overheard one woman exclaim, "Is this real life?!?!" It really did feel that way.
I rented a car and put my left-side driving skills into practice again. A 2 hour drive through winding mountain roads led me to Nelson and it happened again...pure awe. The views are unbelievable! Perfectly glassy water with snow covered mountains as far as the eye can see. Rocks like carved statues appear as if they sit on top of the water. I immediately found a place to park my car and began walking the beach.
The sun sets early here so I decided to make my way to the little inn where I was staying on the hillside. Upon arriving, I was again...in awe. The amazing views were right outside my window. I sat out on my deck with a hot cup of tea and watched the sunset. I couldn't take my eyes of the view until the sun was gone. I was definitely having another "Is this real life?!?" moment.
To bring myself back down to earth, I decided to venture out to check off another item from my New Zeland food list...fish and chips. Lucky for me, one of the top rated places on trip advisor is here in Nelson. The place is called The Sands. You know it's going to be good when you enter from a back alley and order in a room about the size of a closet! I told the guy behind the counter I wanted to the true NZ fish and chips experience. He responds, "well, you've come to the ONLY place for that." 5 minutes later, he handed me hot fish and chips wrapped in paper. I asked what type of fish it was and he said, "a kind that was swimming out there just a few hours ago." (Ha...he was definitely the "salty fisherman" type with a sense of humor to go with it!). Eventually he told me it was Southern Blue Whiting (I'm going to have to look that up) but it was delicious!