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Finding Christina Helene

View of the Picton harbor

Picton is the perfect gateway for people coming into the South Island from the North. It is a small town with two main streets, nestled between mountains and water. Before I came I was picturing a bigger city. When I got to Picton, my friend Eva pointed out that this is actually the best representation on the South Island; one street towns surrounded by gorgeous scenery.

Eva and I walked along the Harbor View Track, past Bob’s Bay. Even with the clouds, it was hot and we were really wishing we had brought our togs (swim suits) with us.

Our quirky hostel host at Atlantis told us that if we wanted to feel like we were in another world, this was the way to go. Boy was she right!

*I’m coming in here years later to emphasize how unique the experience at Atlantis was. It was this massive building very close to the ferry. It must have held 60 backpackers. Eva and I were in a room of 28. This room was divided into sections of 6 or so, with walls that did not reach up to the ceiling. We could hear everything in our room of 28, and the rooms on the next hallway over as the ceilings didn’t quite go up all the way there either, but a make-shift kind of sheet wall was made to attach the said-wall to the ceiling.

Every bed had it’s own sheets that were reminiscent of a 7 year old’s bed sheet choice. During my time at Atlantis, several cartoon characters felt my face smashed against them as I slept. This was actually one of the much better hostels. The bed frames were wooden and there were sheets covering each cubicle that we could close for privacy. My bunk-mate was clearly living and working in town. She had taken over the small dresser between the beds and her alarm would go off before her shift every morning. I would hear her roll out of bed in the dark and thank the heavens that wasn’t me today.

One night, as Eva and I were sleeping, we hear screaming coming from the side of the big room that had 12 beds. “Ugh fucking gross!! Dude you’re peeing on me! Fucking stop it!” Yes friends. One of the young backpackers had too much to drink playing pool in the common area and pissed from the upper bunk onto his bunk-mate below. I laid in my bed with my eyes as big as saucers and a smirk on my mouth as the drama progressed. “I’m going to get the owner!” stomp stomp stomp away….

I have to be clear, Atlantis was not a party hostel by any means. It was run by a family led by an eccentric woman who absolutely loved what she did. There was a piano in a smaller common room that was also filled with wonderful books. Eva and I would play scrabble for hours by the pool table in the larger common room. This woman (I can’t for the life of me remember her name now) made brownies and cookies for the guests and would have them out between 7-8. If you weren’t there by 7.05, unfortunately you would find yourself sol.

The whole hostel was decorated as if we were underwater. It was blue with fish and glitter. It was wonderful. If I ever go back to Picton I will definitely stay here again (maybe in a private room next time.)

Bob’s Bay fishing

I took the Interislander to get to Wellington from Picton. It’s about a 3.5 hour trip between islands. The landscape changes from lush green hills on the South Island to brown and smaller hills once you see the North.

Here you can start to notice the landscape changing.

Welcome to the North.

The ferry pulled into Wellington’s harbor, passing the Weta studios on the way. If you take the Interislander, there is a bus that will take you into the CBD free of charge. Don’t miss it, as there is only one shuttle and it is over an hour walk along the freeway if you miss it!

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