Meet a group of 7 South African rugby fans on the ferry from Wellington to Picton who have a van, and accept their offer to give you a lift to Christchurch.
When Steven, JJ, Johno, Deon, Neill, Stuart, and Dedrick came into our lives, early Monday morning before boarding the ferry, we thought they were a bunch of rowdy, hungover, rugby boys (well, they kind of are). But what we didn't know is that they would become our family for the next week of our lives. They ended up sitting next to us on board, as we had picked the best seats in the "movie theater" section of the boat. We made small talk about our travels in NZ, and it wasn't long before we realized we were both heading to Christchurch that day and we were being invited to join them. After talking it over we decided they seemed harmless and it would save us the money of the bus trip.
Before you freak out about how risky this may seem, remember: Americans have a tendency to distrust people and assume everyone is out to get them. In reality, people tend to be generous and willing
I took this one! (somewhere near Kaikoura)
to offer help with no strings attached. It all comes down to using good judgement and only accepting offers that feel right. We have yet to meet someone we didn't like on this trip!
So back to the story. The 7 hour drive to Christchurch involved stunning views of mountains and the beach (simultaneously), Justin Bieber jokes, frequent pee stops, spotting sea lions, learning Afrikaans, and comparing cultures. Upon arrival in Christchurch we did not see the damage we expected to. Much of the damage from the earthquake(s) was in the city centre, which was closed off to the public. We did see a few fallen fences, lots of cracks and potholes in the road, and the occassional crumbling brick church. We ate dinner at an amazing little pizza place and then found a motel for the night.
Our original plan had been to take the bus down to Dunedin to see some sea lions, but since we had accomplished this the day before we decided to continue traveling with our new friends. By day 2 we had inside jokes and the boys were buying us ice cream cones like we were their little sisters. We made the
long trek to Queenstown, passing more snow-covered mountains and plenty of sheep along the way.
We spent a total of 3 nights in Queenstown. We avoided the expensive tourist traps (although jet boating would have been fun) and enjoyed free walks along the lake and scenic views from the Skyline. Tay has some great photos that I will be sure to post in my next blog. We also did plenty of windowshopping of the local stores and, of course, had dinner at the world famous Fergburger.
Finally, it was time to head back to Picton to catch the ferry back to Wellington. We were all exhausted by our week of fun and slept for most of the van and ferry rides. In Wellington, we returned to couchsurf with Dane, who we had stayed with on the way down.
The following night we went out for one last time with our South African brothers, which was especially fun after their big win over Fiji at the stadium in Wellington. Saying goodbye at the end of the night was hard, but now just gives me an excuse to spend the money on a flight to Africa!
Next week: updates
Creidts to Taylor
on the Australia vs. USA game, my birthday, and pictures...
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