Up with the lark (or before it I think!) I was checked in and ready to cruise at 6:15am. Today I bid farewell to the North Island after thirty five days and one thousand, one hundred and fifty miles riding the length (and detours) of the island. Being thirteen hours ahead of the UK, I took advantage of the crazy early hour here to call my friend Ben back home. It's great to hear his voice, catch-up on all his news and talk about our planned trip to the USA and Canada this summer (more on that adventure later!).
At 8am we leave Wellington and head from the shelter of the harbour across the Strait. I get myself a cup of tea, settle down for the three and half hour sailing to Picton and catch up on writing my blog. Having heard horror stories about rough crossings I'm pleased that it's just a gentle swaying as I tuck into my peanut butter and banana wraps for breakfast.
It's not long before we start to see land again, some of the many islands on our way through the Marlborough Sounds.
Soon enough I'm off the ferry and pedalling from Picton to Pelorus Bridge, my port of call for tonight, some thirty four miles away. It's a three mile ascent over The Wedge to start but the views along the way are worth the sweat.
Cruising down the other side and into Ngakuta Bay I stop for lunch. Clear waters, blue skies and lots of people enjoying themselves, I take in the beauty and watch the world go by for a while.
Riding only a few miles to the next bay there's a cafe and shop and I decide to treat myself to an ice cream. At this rate I'll still be pedalling to Pelorus Bridge well into the night, but I'm enjoying the sunshine and after all I am on holiday!
Fuelled by my ice cream sugar rush I continue riding along the coastline to Havelock, pleased when I find a street where there's a bit of a competitive letterbox streak. The South Island is already impressing me for all the right reasons....
Stopping at the Cullin Point lookout, I take in the view of the sound. If somebody just plonked me right here and told me to open my eyes and guess where I was then I'd immediately say Norway. It reminds me of my trip there a few years ago, the milky blue waters surrounded by mountains - wonderful.
Passing through Havelock the last stretch of the day was eleven miles along highway six. Noted in the TA guidebook as being a busy road I wasn't looking forward to it but the traffic was surprisingly light and with a growing tailwind I motored along, arriving at the Pelorus Bridge campsite in only forty five minutes. Time to relax after an early morning and get ready for tomorrow's ride over the Maungatapu saddle.
A fine day and a fine welcome to the South Island, I'm looking forward to the next six weeks of exploring this magical land.