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Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

india
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Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

We'd be driving in from Rotorua, Apex Rental Car on 8th November, 2013, reach Abel Tasmen Hotel by 5-6 PM, just a peep into Wellington town, off next day towards Greymouth. A whistle-stop if you will, this trip is all about doing the south Island in 10 days (actually need 20) North Island would need more time later.

Ive gone through posts here on Ferry, need more clarity on the following:

1. The ferry and car is booked in by Apex, ferry time 0815 AM on Inter-islander, hotel is reportedly 15 mts away form the ferry, not sure. To catch the 0815 AM ferry, what time do I have to reach the ferry, which place for interislander?

2. Can the luggage be kept locked up in the boot of the car and we carry the small day-packs, or do we have to empty out the boot and register all bags, collect it at Picton?

3. Will it be very windy and cold in November? I guess layered clothing is best for NZ, as it can change quickly in the South Island.

4. If the ferry lands 1115 AM, we should be ready to roll from Picton around 1145. 350 KM from there to Greymouth through Punakaiki (to see the pancake rocks and blow hole) to Grey mouth should take about 5 hours? Should we take State Highway 63 or 6 through Nelson and Richmond? Which is more scenic and which is faster. Based on the climate, we can choose the road once we reach Picton. How are the roads?

I know these are lots of questions, any information would be valuable to plan ahead.

Thanks in advance,

--Arkz

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Christchurch, New...
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1. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

You have a very long day planned!

You will have to queue up for the ferry 1hour before - so 7:15 am. These are large ferries and take time to load. Yes you can leave your luggage locked in the car. No-one is allowed on the boat decks during the voyage.

Allow an hour to get off the ferry! It can be quicker, depending on where you are parked, but again it all takes time. Make sure you have something to eat on the ferry as you will need to get moving out of Picton by 12:00-12:15. It is 4 hours to Punakaiki and the walk out to the Rocks takes 30min-1hour, depending on weather and how many photos you take ;-). Personally I would stay at Punakaiki for the night to save having to rush, and give you a second chance of seeing the Rocks in the morning.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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2. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

Hi Arkz,

If you've never driven on NZ roads before, you are in for a shock. Our roads are windy and narrow in many places. You certainly can't drive long distances without feeling the effects of driver fatigue and crankiness. Unfortunately, looking at a map of NZ shows a small country, but that's not the reality. Please reconsider your intent to drive fast for Greymouth, after arriving into Picton around midday.

Regarding the Cook Strait ferries, you need to be at the Interislander terminal in Wellington an hour at least ahead of departure. There is quite a bit involved in checkin, the queueing system for vehicles, and the loading process. Once you are parked on the ferry, take the items that you most need for the crossing duration in a carryall up to the passenger decks. Your main luggage remains in your car. It can get breezy on the external decks, but there are a number of comfortable passenger areas inside to relax including the dining areas - https://www.interislander.co.nz/terminals-an…

Anywhere around NZ can experience changeable weather in November. Clothing layers is the best plan for our maritime country.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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3. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

Hi,

Seems I was composing my reply - at same time as Zhuhai was posting her information to your thread. Hence similar information given by the cross-postings. I agree with Zhuhai that Punakaiki would make for a good overnight stop, and also to see the rock formations in daylight.

Ballarat, Australia
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4. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

If you have any tendency to seasickness, make sure you take medication, and carry a good raincoat in case you feel seasick and need to be out on deck for the air. Cook Strait can be rough, and they will set sail in quite bad conditions.

Edited: 18 September 2013, 22:16
india
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5. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

Thank you Gurus for the valuable inputs, TA rocks!!

I've looked at all combinations of my plan, doing the mad rush from Picton seems the beset choice for us, initially we had planned at Punakaiki resoort, no space as per our agent in Auckland. I've also looked at some videos on youtube of the crossing in choppy weather, very scary!!

We've done a fair bit of driving all around, UK (end to end), Europe, wonderful roads, may be one of the best. Have done almost all of India including Ladakh Himalayas & Spiti Valley, can't get crazier than that, the Mother of all drives. Only Sri Lanka comes somewhere near in crazy driving habits and conditions.

Will check out early and wait up early, can't afford to miss the ferry. Thanks for the tip about seasickness and raincoat, we'll have the medicine & panco on the day pack and also carry some food. The special lounge looks pricey, I guess the general lounge is OK for a 3 hr journey.

We will be very very careful while driving, a friend of ours at Auckland got locked out by Police for speeding 6 months back, so we're not going to break any rules and tangle with the law.

I think from Picton to Greymouth, the road is sealed, I see mountain roads on google in between which we would cover in daylight? Do we get rains on the hills in November ? That would throw all calculations out the window, the drive would become more demanding by the mile and would zap the light. By the time we finish Punakaiki it would be 6 PM and the drive to Greymouth could be after sunset. I see the sunrise around 05:52 and sunset around 20:38, so would give us around 15 hrs of daylight to finish the drive.

--Arkz

====

Christchurch, New...
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6. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

Yes we can get rain, storms, fog/low cloud, and/or wind any time of year! Snow is unlikely but not impossible in November when travelling through the Southern Alps. (I have had snow at sea level in Dunedin in November.) That would certainly slow you down.

Given the long day you have planned I would go via SH 63, it is about an hour shorter according to aatravel.co.nz drive times. You will miss the Queen Charlotte Drive between Picton and Nelson which is very scenic, but also VERY slow. Instead you could make a quick stop at St Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti which are on SH 63, they are beautiful too (in good weather - I have been there in rain and low cloud such that you couldn't see any mountains at all. That was in February supposedly our best settled summer weather month!)

Have a great trip, drive safely and sensibly. If cars are queuing up behind you make sure you pull over at the next safe spot and let them pass.

india
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7. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

Tnx again Sam for that valuable but ... not so comforting :) information on rains, clouds and bundle of woes that can blow your way !! Reminds me of our Scotland & Lake District drive, rain was so unpredictable there and can throw your plans out the window in a Jeffy.

I'd take SH 63 and be quicker, there's so much to see for the next time. Just realized I'd need about a whole month of slow travel to really enjoy NZ.

Been also reading up here on the new right of way law, informative link:

…govt.nz/traffic/…road-user-rule.html

The tip about letting cars behind pass is a good one, been reading up on impatient Kiwis, timber and milk trucks... will watch out for them and give them all the road available.

--Arkz

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Singapore, Singapore
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8. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

Hi all,

I was just wondering, if I drive my vehicle into the ferry, what is the system they practice?

FIFO (First In First Out) or LIFO (Last In First Out)?

Too few days and too many beautiful places to cover.

Christchurch, New...
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9. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

The ferries have different configurations and it may depen on which deck you are on. Last time I got one it was first on, first off as you drove down one side around the pointy bit and back down the other side. It may bepend on where the trucks are etc. It is very orderly. I got a Greek ferry once and it was like a lemans start.

The ferries have a fast turn around and there is not much time between first and last off.

Cook straight can be the second roughest ferry crossing in the world, and it can be perfectly calm with Dolphins chasing the boat. I know lots who have had a smoooth crossing each way, but dont know anyone who has had a rougie each way.

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10. Re: Wellington to Picton - Ferry Questions

Information on checking in and instructions on how to leave your vehicle on the Interislander ferry is available here:

https:/…Checking-In.aspx

Other links on that page give details on the ferry terminal.