24 December 2010

New Zealand!!! Christchurch and the Northeast

I made it to NZ (pronounced N Zed) but not without incident.  It seems Australia wasn’t done taking my money, because as I was about to fly out a crazy strong Northeastern gale hit the airport, temporarily shutting it down to only one runway, and effectively delaying my flight by 2+ hours.  It seems that Aus (pronounced Oz) wanted me to stay so much it made a heart out of ‘Jandals’ just for me.
Also forgot to mention that I saw slackliners in Aus.  We’re everywhere!
Once successfully in Christchurch, I caught a 2:30am shuttle to my hostel (thanks Shuttle guy for waiting for my, the very last plane, to arrive!) where I took a quick shower and passed out.  I slept in on Tuesday, and blogged, as hopefully you’ve seen by now.  I also laid out my shiny new NZ money for a photo.  That’s Sir Edmond Hillary on the $5 bill.  He was the first person, along with Tenzing Norgay, to summit Mt. Everest and return alive!
I got my poop in a group enough to leave the hostel around 3pm, where I took this old school elevator down to the town centre, also known as Cathedral Square, which was conveniently right in front of the hostel.

My wanderings found me in a vast park, where the sky really is big here.  *Almost* as big as Montana, but not quite…
In the botanical gardens, there was this old Peace Bell.  I rang it with a big stick I found, in the name of Team Peesarch!
 I wandered past Christ College, which is apparently one of the oldest Uni’s in NZ.  This building looks awful new to be old….

Christchurch suffered a big earthquake here recently.  As part of the damage a lot of old buildings are falling down and are being supported by beams and scaffolding until they can be repaired.  It seems the Kiwi’s enjoy being creative with the scaffolding decorations.

 Should I buy one of these?  Think it would help me to blend in???
My wanderings took me late into the evening, where I caught one of what will surely be MANY stunning sunsets.
Here’s the cathedral at night.  Right after this I was able to watch the Full Moon eclipse for Summer Solstice!  Thanks for the head’s up about the eclipse Madre!
On Wednesday morning, it was time to pick up the rental car.  Their building was damaged in the quake, so a long walk across town took me past this place: ROXX Climbing Gym!  If only it had one more X in the name…then it would be TRULY epic!
En route, Waikuku Beach looked too tempting to pass up and I’m very glad I stopped!  The water here is so green and mineral looking from all of the heavy rains they’ve had this year!
Since I was stopped anyway, I decided to finally get the Fish and Chips I’ve been craving for DAYS!  I stopped at the only place in town, which was a cross between a general store, a 7-eleven, and a restaurant.  Basically it was everything.  I ordered Snapper and was served this lovely little newspaper package?  I think my confused face says it all…but the contents of my package were delish!

I made my way up Lewis Pass where it was just POURING rain.  As I mentioned, La Nina is packing a punch down here, and it’s been very unseasonably wet.  These through the window car pics hardly do NZ justice, but it’s still very beautiful despite the rain.
The rental is a Nissan Sunny, and en route I rolled to 111,111 kilometres on my trip.  Had to document the awesomeness.
After a long drive through the pass in search of a free campground (it was absolutely putrid when I found it, and completely soggy, there was no WAY I was staying there) I found myself in Hamner Springs for the night, where I pitched a tent, then ran into town (literally ran, about 3-4 miles round trip) to have a beer.  Here’s the view from my run, and my reward after.
Thursday morning, Christmas Eve Eve, I packed up my tent for the long drive to Kaikoura, a beautiful city on the coast where the mountains meet the ocean.  My drive took me past some more beautiful scenery: a spot for bungee, gorgeous Bridger-esque mountains, and Mt. Lyndon.
 A note about driving here:  As you may not know, the Kiwi’s and the Ozzies drive on the WRONG side of the road.  It’s really taken some getting used to, and while I’m better now, it’s still no cake walk.  It takes a surprising amount of concentration!  Also, suddenly your left hand becomes your "doing stuff" hand- ie adjusting the radio, fiddling with the ipod, reaching for food, etc, and that's been even harder to get used to.  My left hand is basically useless.  At least go to the right side of the car now, but I still reach over my left shoulder every time for my seatbelt!  I’ll learn eventually…

To make driving even more difficult, the Kiwi’s decided to build completely ridiculous roads.  I was worried about exceeding the 100km/hr national speed limit, but I would have to be crazy to even try to go that fast here!  Many of you know that I get car sick, but this can normally be abated by sitting in the front seat.  Let’s just say that these roads are so windy I made myself a little sick while driving!  These roads would not pass in the States, too many people would kill themselves I am sure.

After an adventurous 2 hours on the most dangerous road I’ve ever driven (don’t worry mom, I was careful) I made it to Kaikoura.  The weather was calm - normally it’s pretty windy here I guess - so I took the opportunity to explore the peninsula.  There is allegedly a big seal colony here, but I didn’t see it.  At least not enough seal’s to constitute a *colony*.

The beaches are black pebble (I prefer pebble to sand actually) and as you can see, the scenery once again does not disappoint.
There are a lot of structures build out of bone, dating back to the whaling port history of the region.  This park “peesarch” was built out of bone in remberence of the whalers who died in pursuit of the catch.

For dinner, I made myself a tasty spinach salad, which I enjoyed in front of this baritone and tuba fountain at my eclectic hostel.  Not a bad way to spend the evening.
Once again, NZ put on an AMAZING show in the dusk-night sky.  Some pictures to illustrate:

 Today I headed back to Christchurch, and tomorrow it’s off to the Banks Peninsula.  After that,  it will be south to Dunedin, west to Queenstown for New Year’s, then north through Nelson, Wellington, and Auckland to end my trip.  I don’t have lodging worked out yet for New Years, but as someone very dear to me is fond of saying, ‘It will all work out.’  So I’m having faith that the trip will continue mostly snag free, and that the worst thing to happen to me will be the loss of my water bottle (today’s tragedy).

To leave you, here’s Brew Moon, a brewery I passed.  Apparently they’re everywhere, I’ll be sure to try it and let you know how it compares to Blue Moon in the states.  Have to say I’m a fan of the clever name!

1 comment:

Kate said...

Very cool! Thanks for the update.