I had assumed our journey from the North Island to the South Island of New Zealand would be in a north-south direction. In actuality, the crossing of Cook Strait is from east to west. Named after Captain James Cook, who first mapped it in 1773, the waters of the strait are considered among the most dangerous and unpredictable in the world. The regular ferry service is often disrupted due to rough water and heavy swells from strong winds. Fortunately, our early morning sailing from Wellington was on a sea of glass.
About half of the 70 kilometre voyage is in the strait before entering the spectacular Marlborough Sounds.
Many of the small settlements, surrounded by steep, wooded hills, are only accessible by boat.
With 1500 kilometres of coastline, the islands and peninsulas of the Sounds comprise one-fifth of New Zealand’s total.
Made up of four distinctly different Sounds (Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru, Pelorus and Mahua), it is boggling to think that 10,000 years ago, this stunning area was actually a valley.
Three and a half hours after leaving Wellington, we arrived in Picton Harbour at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound.
As we drove out of town, we paused to look back at the breathtaking scenery and bustling harbour before continuing our South Island adventure.