In the city of Whanganui I had a unique experience after the 3 days on the river – I was able to experience my first earthquake live. I was in my room when my bed started to shake, it took some seconds until it was clear that something was wrong. The jump out of the bed and out the door was more an instinctive reaction than a conscious action. In the garden of the hostel all the guests came running and were all excited. Only the owner of the hostel stood on his balcony and said there was no reason for excitement. This earthquake was apparently not bad, but he had already experienced some stronger ones this year. In retrospect we learned that it had the strength of 5.7.
Wellington, located at the southern tip of the North Island, is the capital of New Zealand. From the size and as an economic factor this city cannot be compared to Auckland. With approximately 190,000 inhabitants, Wellington is more like a sleepy little town than the political centre of New Zealand. It owes its seat of government to the fact that it is geographically located approximately in the middle of the North and South Island, so it is a compromise solution for the inhabitants of both islands.
I had already learned a lot about this city in advance and was prepared to spend several days there with sightseeing. The disappointment was quite big, when after only 4 hours I had seen everything that seemed worth seeing. So I was able to continue to the South Island earlier than expected. In retrospect, it was not bad at all, because this city is not called “Windy City” for nothing – the wind whistles around your ears almost hurricane-force the whole day – if you are not used to it, it gets very unpleasant with time.
The crossing from Wellington to Picton, i.e. to the South Island, was a great experience. Of course there were extreme wind forces and the sea was rough, but still the anticipation was great. I had heard so many positive stories about the south before, so I couldn’t wait. The huge car ferry was quite full, on board one could actually only stay outside, because due to the adverse conditions most of the passengers were inside.
When we arrived in Picton, on the South Island, we continued our journey in a westerly direction to Nelson. And there the next Great Walk was on the program.