- New zealand
How to Cross from North to South Island, New Zealand via Ferries
After an epic trip in Lake Taupo where I summited the 2,291m high Mt Ngauruhoe situated in the Tongariro Alpine Crossing that ended my first week in New Zealand, it was time to say goodbye to the north island and headed down south. Today's trip began in Wellington.
New Zealand Travel Video
Getting to Wellington from Lake Taupo
Again, I took the NakedBus from Lake Taupo to Wellington. If you remember, there was a little incident the last time I was on the NakedBus. As I was thinking about the last incident, it happened again, this time involved cops and several hours delay. As we were driving across the beautiful plain of New Zealand, some people on the bus noticed that the bus was moving in slow zig-zag motion. The driver was allegedly drunk as some of the people on the bus has claimed and a few locals demanded a change of a bus driver. The driver assured us that he was okay but he continued to drive like he did before. Not until we reached our first transit at Palmerston North that some of the locals went down and refused to get back on the bus while reporting the incident to nearby cops. It was a fiasco.
After a few hours of delay, the Nakedbus finally responded to our request and sent us a new driver. We eventually arrived safe and sound in Wellington at almost 9PM. The next day, I got an email from the Nakedbus addressing yesterday's incident and gave me a 50% discount on my next purchase. I would say, they have responded awesomely and I never had any incident since then.
Where to Stay in Wellington
That night I stayed at the Dwellington, a beautifully decorated and welcoming hostel that made me feel just like home. I highly recommended this place.
Crossing from Wellington to Picton
The Dwellington provided me with a free internet and breakfast, something that is quite rare in hostels in New Zealand. I was able to book a ferry ticket from The Interislander the previous day for 55 NZD (low season price). What I didn't realize though was how far the ferry terminal is from everything else.
Since I have only one night in Wellington, I decided to pack up early and made the mistake of going to the ferry terminal by foot first to drop my bag and explore later.
As it turned out, the Interislander terminal was so far away from the city that I ended up not going anywhere after that. If I were going to go out, it would mean that I would surely miss my ferry so I ended up doing absolutely nothing. What a waste of my time in Wellington.
At around 2PM, I boarded the ferry and off we go to the south island!
The clouds were forming on the horizon but the scenery were still dreamy and stunning.
Approaching the Queen Charlotte Sound, one of the highlights of crusing between islands of New Zealand.
After light rain and an extremely windy afternoon, I was glad to arrive at the ferry terminal in Picton. My face were numb to its bones.
Where to Stay in Picton
It rained all day that day so I ended up staying in a hostel the whole evening. I stayed at the Sequoia Lodge Backpackers. One of the first hostel in New Zealand that had me impressed right from the beginning to the end.
First step in the hostel, I had a pleasant conversation with one of the staff who, mind you, looked and sounded just like Angie Harmon. At 8PM, the staff served us free chocolate pudding. It was beyond delicious! At night, I talked to one of the most inspirational woman I've met on my trip, Kasia from Poland. We talked until 1 in the morning about all kinds of topics from my work to her 3 years journey working in India alone after schools. I considered it a time well spent even though I did not get to explore Picton like I wanted to.
Exploring Picton City
The moment I saw sunlight shining through the window, I jumped out of bed and went out for a walk as fast as I could, as I know that nice weather don't last in New Zealand. Since my bus leaves at 12 PM, I decided to go walk the Snout Track so that I could at least see the Queen Charlotte sound with my own eyes.
After I grabbed my morning Flat White, I finally had time to appreciate how beautiful Picton was. It was this moment that I started to regret not staying longer in Picton.
Hiking the Snout Track
There are many walks I could undertake but with only 3 hours left in Picton, the Snout Track was the best choice. The whole walk is around 3 - 4 hours long and If I ran part of it, I would be able to catch the bus in time. It was tight but I wasn't going to leave Picton without doing anything!
The walk began from the beach, circling around the port and the small hill nearby.
After an hour walk, I approached an open road and a parking lot. As in turned out, you can drive to the starting point of the Snout track to shorten the time.. but what is the fun in that? :)
After an hour walk, I'd finally reached the Snout head, an outlook point to the Queen Charlotte Sound stretching out to the horizon as far as the eye could see.
I met only 2 people throughout the walk. It was so quiet and peaceful that I didn't mind staying a little longer at the outlook point. That is one of the reason why I like New Zealand so much, you can always find a place without crowds.
Finally, I saw the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound with my own eyes.
As I was about to leave, I met an old lady (aged around 50 - 60 years old) and she told me about her life story of not wanting to do what friends her age do, buying a house and sitting around all day. She decided to sell her house in Nelson and live in a camper van, traveling her own country. My admiration for her feat showed as I enthusiastically asked her more and more questions. Unfortunately, the time was not on my side that day and I had to end the wonderful conversation prematurely and ran down the track.
I gave the Queen Charlotte Sound one last look and literally ran back to Picton.
As I ran down from a mountain, this funny sign caught my attention. Blues music sure is dangerous to kids. ;)
Even though not much went on during my time in Wellington and Picton, it was a good change of pace from what I did in Lake Taupo. It gave me some time to really appreciate the culture and the people living and traveling through New Zealand. This theme of traveling would continue on to Nelson in the next episode of New Zealand's solo traveler's journal until another adventure in the Abel Tasman national park. Stay tuned for more travel stories in New Zealand.
Further Reading for Backpacking in New Zealand
I’ve spent 5 weeks backpacking in New Zealand and I have written a ton more about my journey traveling throughout New Zealand from the North Island to the South Island that you might help in your trip planning.
Here’s a selection of articles about New Zealand:
- Looking for a complete travel guide to spend one month in New Zealand on a budget? A Month In New Zealand On A Budget - The Perfect Backpacking Itinerary.
- New Zealand has a special place in my heart. It is one of the most memorable trips I have ever done and here are 10 things I love about New Zealand.
- If you are planning to start traveling in New Zealand from North to South, Rotorua is a great place to visit on your way South from Auckland. Here is a travel guide on things to do in Rotorua.
- Did you know that you can climb Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings in real life? Along the Tongariro Crossing trail, you have the option to summit Mount Ngauruhoe which was used as a reference for Mount Doom in the movie. Here a travel guide on how to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one day.
- One of the first big city you will travel in the South Island is Nelson which has a laid-back vibe while Motueka, a sister town makes a great base to traveling to Abel Tasman National Park. Here’s a quick travel guide on things to do in Nelson and Motueka.
- One of the best Great Walk you can do is in the Abel Tasman National Park and you can do parts of it in one day. Here’s a complete guide on how to hike parts of the Abel Tasman Great Walk in one day.
- The West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand is not very popular among travelers, making it a great place to go off the beaten path. Here’s a travel guide on things to do, and where to go in West Port, New Zealand.
- Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, a question that has been asked for as long as travelers start traveling in New Zealand. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick as both are a great place to go ice climbing. Here’s a travel guide on how to go ice climbing on Franz Josef glacier with Ice Explorer.
- You must have a seen photo of a lone tree in a lake with beautiful mountains as a background somewhere. That’s in Wanaka, New Zealand and here’s travel guide on things to do in Wanaka in one day.
- Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. If your body can endure it, you can find it in Queenstown. Here’s a 3 days itinerary on things to do in Queenstown.
- Queenstown is also one of the best places in the world to go skydiving. Here’s my experience skydiving with the NZONE in Queenstown.
- The Milford Sound is touristy, there’s no denying it and you are not wrong to be skeptical but I can assure you, it is worth the hype. Here’s a travel guide on which cruise to pick for the Milford Sound and how to get there.
- One of the best Great Walk in New Zealand you can do is the Routeburn Track. Here’s a complete 3 days itinerary and travel guide on how to trek the Routeburn Track.
- Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and the best way to see it is to hike the Hooker Valley trail. Here’s a travel guide on visiting Mt. Cook and hiking the Hooker Valley trail.
- Dunedin is a great place to end your trip in New Zealand. After all the adventure you have been through, here’s how to spend 5 days in Dunedin, taking it slow and seeing the city at your own leisure.
- Not convinced by my words about New Zealand? Come follow me and I’ll show you New Zealand in 70 photos.
- You can see all my New Zealand travel guides and related articles on my New Zealand Travel Guide page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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