The ship docked around 7am, but it doesn’t dock right in Picton, which has a small, pretty harbour that wouldn’t fit our monstrosity. The Majestic Princess docks around the corner in Shakespeare Bay and an efficient fleet of free buses transports passengers to Picton.
Once again, when we awoke we had the dud view – piles of lumber on the docks, while Mum and Dad’s cabin had a lovely view of forested fjord walls that felt almost tropical. The weather was a bit colder today but we didn’t need anything warmer than a light jacket. As we left the ship a group of local ladies were passing out little floral buttonholes as a welcome to Picton. I don’t know if it’s sweet or a sneaky way of identifying cruise ship passengers in town, but it felt like a very friendly gesture and a shop owner later told me it takes a group of volunteers many hours to assemble and organise.
We decided to head first to the Edwin Fox Museum, stopping on the short walk to admire some busy bees and a pretty bird with curly white feathers at its throat.
The museum was not something I’d naturally gravitate towards, being about nautical history, but I’ve taught a unit on the goldfields for eight years now and so I just had to take the opportunity to stand inside a genuine goldfields-era ship. I was glad we’d watched the information video on Picton, otherwise we wouldn’t have known what was behind the small front of the museum entrance.
Inside the building, the museum has a couple of small spaces filled with entertaining information boards and artefacts plus a video about the rescue of the hull, then out the back was a shed containing the hull of the ship and some recreated spaces, such as the steerage berths.
We climbed down to stand in the bottom of the hull and it was fascinating. The worn part of the wooden columns was where the hull had sat in the water and the worn parts had been exposed daily to air because of the tide. Below the tidal level the teak boards were in pretty good condition.
What I’m saying is, if you’re in Picton, go see it if you’re even slightly curious. It doesn’t take long, it doesn’t cost much and it’s very interesting. Also of note, this picture frame, entirely done in knots!
Next we took a walk along the foreshore and over the coat hanger bridge. We walked along the opposite shore and found a sail school setting out. I immediately felt deeply envious of these small children, living in their picture-perfect town and getting to sail tiny, colourful boats as part of their daily life. Do they know how lucky they are? Everywhere we’ve been in NZ is positively cluttered with boats of all kinds and people who look like they should be in a North Face or Kathmandu catalogue.
After our walk we had a great coffee at Gusto, and a feijoa and apple juice, as recommended by many friends on Facebook. While sitting at the cafe we saw a private bus with the name Bussy McBus Face, and I am very sorry not to have caught it in a photo.
After having moderate success posting the first few blog posts for the trip while sitting outside the Picton visitors centre, we caught the bus back. We watched Queen Charlotte Sound slide by from deck 17, and I spotted a sting ray in the water. We met up with Mum and Dad in the buffet then had dinner at the Symphony restaurant.
Luke and I finished the evening watching a rock violin show that was quite entertaining. The violinist was from Wales and had been working on cruise ships for 22 years. I have no idea how cruise ship work is perceived in the music industry, but that seems like a really long time. He said that featured musicians get to bring friends and family with them on cruises… I wonder if that means they have to share a room? I have so many questions about working on cruise ships but every staff member seems so busy that I don’t want to interrupt any of them to ask.