For today's journey, I'm ON THE TRAIN. I have a dreaded 7am departure, for which the train company happily run a free hotel shuttle. Christchurch station is freezing and forgotten - as far as I can tell, it only hosts about two trains a day. I successfully check my baggage through to the Wellington ferry terminal, and round up my allotted seat.

It's still dark as we pull out. And it quickly become obvious that the train is in no particular hurry - the South Island rail system is clearly just for gazing at the scenery (or will be when the sun rises).

The sun reveals that we're travelling through rolling hills and low density farmland, reminiscent of the Scottish Borders. Apart from the countryside, the similarities between this part of the world and Scotland are no accident. The coming of emigration to New Zealand coinceded with the Highland Clearances as crofters were dispossessed of the homes and livelihoods. It's no surprise that many chose to settle in a new land.

Back in the new land, the scenery really gets good when the hills give way to sea as we reach the spectacular Kaikoura coast. There's a long rocky coastal strip punctuated by outcrops offshore. The area is best know for its marine mammal life, and while winter is a poor time for viewing, we still see a good number of fur seals hanging out on the rocks.

The final segment of the trip is through the plains to the north. The train's commentary continues, marking the vineyards as we pass them. The journey winds to a close when we descend from the mountains into the town of Picton amid the impressive setting of the Marlborough Sounds.

Finding my way to my boat doesn't prove too difficult. Picton consists almost entirely of a rail terminus and a ferry port, so anyone leaving the train here is guaranteed to be heading in the right direction.

My rummage for a comfortable corner of the boat finds me in the bar (I know - I was shocked too) where Sophie and the Realistic Expectations are in the process of setting up. How better to spend a few hours on a ferry than exploring micro-brewery beers to the accompaniment of soul covers?

Apparently, there's a spectacular glacial landscape outside but, importantly, no beer.

The ferry terminal has a free shuttle to the train stations in Wellington, although my hotel is still a mile away, and up hill.

It's just gone 5 as I arrive, so too late to visit anything. All I need right now is food and sleep. I step out into town for long enough to get some low quality food to devour in my room.

Whereupon I discover that my coke has escaped and killed what was, up until I removed it from its case, my waterproof camera. Curses and naughty words.

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