New Zealand's weather had been kind to me in the weeks before I arrived in Wellington. I was in town to explore the country's capital city, watch some cricket, drink some strong coffee and make my way south. I had been told that the city was one of the most "liveable cities" in the world.
On the day of the cricket, the sun beat down and the wickets tumbled as England were humiliated by the hosts. I was there on my own but quickly drew the attention of some Kiwis who played for the national under 19s team... and they wouldn't let me forget just how much better the Black Caps were than England.
Of course Wellington has a nickname that gave me a clue as to what I might expect on the rest of my stay there: "Windy Wellie". On day two Wellington lived up to her nickname. I nearly lost my hat a couple of times so spent any time on the waterfront with it pulled firmly down and angled against the blustery breezes.
The next leg of my journey would be by sea, leaving the North Island behind and taking the ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton, nestled deep in the Marlborough Sounds. My father had waxed lyrical about the beauty of this part of New Zealand. He had traveled on a beautiful, clear morning. When I arrived at the ferry terminal at 7:30am Wellington's weather had deteriorated further and grey clouds hung low over the hills behind the Beehive (the Parliament building).
We crossed the Strait, heading west towards the Marlborough, home of the famous white wines that have become so popular in the last few decades. The hills surrounding the sounds gradually came into view and we entered the sheltered waters where once again the clouds sat atop the ridges to the left and right of the ferry. We steadily sailed further into the maze of inlets and stretches of water that make up the spidery network of water and islands. The sky added a sense of drama to the journey.
The boat was busy - full of backpackers and tourists. Instead of taking in the dramatic landscapes, some people instead chose to watch an action film starring The Rock. Other slept off their hangovers and some even drank morning beers. I spent most of the time gazing into the various arms that shot out from the busy Queen Charlotte Sound. I was merely having a glimpse at a part of the Marlborough Sounds. I had been told that I would be blown away by this part of New Zealand, but I didn't expect it to be quite so stunning or big!
Eventually our ferry arrived at Picton. This small and unremarkable town welcomed yet more travellers keen to get away and on to the wonders that awaited them further south. Me? I went tramping through some stunning landscapes and spent the evening in my hostel's hot-tub listening to podcasts and drinking some delicious local vino.