Picton to Welly on the InterIslander
Quick visit to the supermarket in Picton to fetch fresh fruit before embarking on the InterIslander. This was a bigger operation than the more refined Bluebridge.
As the footpassengers boarded we had to pass three livestock carriers. We could see cows, calves and sheep pressed into their container sized trucks, stacked up by two and three floors. They were in full sun. There was no sign of water for them. Presumably they’d been waiting to board with the rest of the traffic and before that who knows when they were loaded onto their trucks. As the humans walked past the beasts bent to see between the planks of their crates. Their eyes rolled. They were silent. The sheep stared with their curious golden streaked eyes, their pupils shaped like Maori war-canoes. The sheep were filthy.
I asked a poor innocent staff member if they’d be in full sun for long? She didn’t know. I asked if there was no slaughter house in the South Island? Why would they be travelling across the water? Where they to be released in some new Northern sumptuous green paddocks to make new friends? She didn’t know. But, in order to shake me off, she thought perhaps her colleague at reception might know. I took her at her ingenuous word, thinking I would follow where she led, and found myself face to face with a sweet young thing who also knew nothing and happened to be vegan. She found it difficult to witness their plight and liked to visit them in her break just to be with them. But, she said, it is our primary industry. I thought perhaps tourism might be up there but she said, no, our government reckons it is meat and dairy. So the cows and sheep sunbake on the luxurious sea-going vessels every day next to tourists of many lands. I suppose some (humans – the big animals are vegan by preference) are weighing up the carcasses, drooling over the potential steak and chop they might enjoy in a fair New Zealand eatery (or one of the many export markets) but I also imagine there might be some for which this insight into NZ’s primary industry might be a bit shocking. ‘At least,’ said a woman beside me, ‘They’ve got room to move around.’ Isn’t that nice?
The young receptionist agreed that we saw them, witnessed them, and talked about them and we knew there were two vegans on board who cared about them. That’s a start, isn’t it? 3 hours and 40 minutes these canned creatures must endure the weather, the ups and downs of seaboard life, without access to water or food without knowing where they’re going or why, without knowing where their family or friends might be.
But, for me, I arrived safely in Wellington once more, with two new Yatra friends to see me on my way. One dropped at his hotel, the other feeling incredibly powerful, sat in a bar and told me of the changes she’d already made to her life. To study sustainability! Woot! She dropped me at my delightful Wellington cousin’s house on the top of the hill and, once more in the North Island, I found wonderful kindness and generosity.
When I left Welly behind, I went out to the observation car to cling to the handrail, the farm land flashing by, those craggy peaks and intrepid volcano, just biding her time. Comparing the mild fumed air with the sea breeze of the day before I did not last as long. I guess the emissions from the ship to be greater, but blown behind us. Here we breathe in what has gone before. It was a divine day.
So, memories refreshed, I loved the South Island of New Zealand and I feel sure you will too. Travel sustainably!
Soon you shall read about my next container ship voyage, back to Oz, and compare it to my first outing on a container ship here!