Published: December 1st 2005November 12th 2005
I held back on taking a photo until I caught just the right ray of sun
Christchurch airport had a poster that caught my eye as I walked past immigration; 'The All Blacks' in action. There are a lot of attractions New Zealand has tempted me with over the last few years, but their national rugby team has topped my list most recently. Not having been to a game since the days I watched my dad coach the highschool boys, I thought I could make a feature of my 5 weeks here. Noooo, I'm not 'gonna be a rugby groupie, just checking out the field as often as I can. When I saw Wales, Ireland, Scotland and the UK as the opposition teams over the next few weeks I smiled and thought of the rivalring commaderie I could have. And then just my luck, I realized the All Blacks are touring the UK. So instead of checking out the field, I'm still playing the field. Applicants are most welcome, but you must have a full set of teeth.
After settling in I did a walking tour of the town center ... Starbucks ... tourist tack ... Starbucks ... tourist tack, and guess what? Yet another Starbucks. Of course I will always support the coffee industry
It was a perfect spot to chill out with my book in hand watching the boats go by. Felt a bit like being back in Cambridge!
and I ended up warming up with a skinny latte. Yes, I said warming up! For the first time in a long time I am actually a bit cold. The spring here is so so refreshing. In fact, it has to be my favourite season now. There is a smell in the air, colour all around, and open spaces being filled with men running around playing sweaty sports. Could it really be better than this?
I took a gondola that allowed me to look over the Canterbury Plains and the town of Lyttelton. The view was as I had seen when flying into Christchurch, but just that little bit closer and more exciting. The sparkling white crested mountains fell down to the fields surrounding a few farms. There were a lot of story boards in the area explaining how the pioneering english first settled in the area. Coming to New Zealand is certainly not a good option for getting away from the Brits! Fab views and the roll back down to the bottom wasn't so bad either! I took a restored tram around the town center that evening. Even though I had walked the route around town all
I've bumped into this guy in Vancouver, England and now here
ready, it was nice to sit back and watch the Japanese tourists make every possible pose for the camera.
I found an apple center to take my laptop to. It seems as though technical issues can even find me through a new computer that I've only owned for a couple of weeks. I bought the damn thing to alleviate my time in internet cafes and this still hasn't happened for me. I also made the grave mistake of plugging my ipod into my laptop with hopes of editing my songs. How wrong was I. I lost all 4000 tunes that I had painstakingly downloaded before leaving England. Bloody 'ell, and now I have nothing. Must find techically minded boyfriend to deal with these issues for me. Mind you, after an entire day in apple intensive care the technicians could only recognize that something was wrong with it, but didn't know how to fix it. Too much technology so it's time to get out of town and see new things.
I had hoped to buy a car, and sell it just before I left. New Zealand has excellent bus touring packages, but the idea of exploring the
Why do they need Captain Cook here when they have such amazing Maori carvings?
land at my own pace was too enticing. After all of the buses in Asia and Africa, it's time to spoil myself a bit!! For sale car notices from other travellers jumped in front of my eyes everywhere I looked, but I chickened out fearing I'd be left with a heap and three wheels in the middle of nowhere half way through my journey. Instead I found a cheap relocation rental and was soon on my way out of Christchurch.
Most people will be able to guess what I saw a lot of along my route towards Lake Tekapo. Sheep, sheep and more sheep. Having said that, I did see a few deer and ostrich farms as well. The last thing I expected to see was a sign for the town of Sheffield! Just a quick pose with the outstretched camera arm and I was on my way. As I drove along the twisty roads I decided the rental was a very wise choice as driving was such a joy. Some people hate driving, luckily I'm not one of those people. The only thing that could have improved my situation was music. I have a great little gadget
The first of many similarities to Vancouver, just a different style of carving
for my ipod that I can play all my tunes over the radio...but no tunes. The car radio has a very limited fm range (due to it still thinking that it's driving in Japan I think) and although I found one station, I tired of the Christian hymns and preaching after a few minutes. So it was back to my camp song days as those kind of songs were the easiest tunes to remember. 'Found a peanut' and 'The Cutest Boy' have been revived to vocal limits. I guess I have a big thank you to the 'man' upstairs for ensuring nobody could hear me.
I arrived at Lake Tekapo and the first sight I saw was the bright turqouise water in front of the church. It's an image that anybody who has ever opened a book on New Zealand would have seen, and now I've seen it in person. There was actually a wedding going on at the time, so I tried to tiptoe, unlike the rest of the tourists. The pink and purple edging that I seem to have within every photo, are just a few of the lupins that the english brought over back in
Such enthusiastic colours everywhere I look
the day. It's incredibly scenic, and that really is incredibly it. I put my car in the town center parking, and then realized that the strip mall really was town so I could have just done a drive by. The light changed quite dramatically in the course of the evening so I was able to catch some great shots. I tried to stay awake long enough for an adventure outside to see the stars as it's an area renound for it's starry skies. Unfortunetly, the wind had picked up in great gusts prooving that my few layers of warmth were not quite enough, although my duvet was cosy enough. The wind had certainly done it's damage through the night as it was obvious in the morning where mother nature's breath had touched down. The wind continued and was actually picking up the water from different areas within the lake. My attempt to walk down to the water's edge was disastrous, although probably a rather hilarious sight to see me soaking wet and crawling back with my tripod and camera through my teeth! The wind had tried to blow me over but instead just picked up some water from the lake
The Gondola Ride
Looking over the town of Lytteltown as we climbed up Mouont Cavendish
and soaked me. Bastard.
Hoping the wind would blow away all the clouds in the sky for a stunning view of New Zealand's tallest mountain, I drove a few kilometers over to Mount Cook. I was startled when I turned a corner of the mountainious road to be hit with such a postcard view. The colours of Lake Pukaki at the base of the mountain didn't seem real. Has somebody blocked the end of the road with a billboard? I rubbed my eyes and then grabbed my camera. Wow. Too bad I've lost the polar bear characteristics of the Canadians bearing the freezing cold water for a swim, as it certainly would have been a scenic swim! I drove past the lake and was soon transported to the Lord of the Rings movie set. Grassy plains all around me, black sliding rock down a mountain edge to my right and a dirty blue glacier creeping down in front of me. I double checked the back seat to make sure I wasn't hiding a little person, though I did hope Orlando Bloom's character was chasing me on a horse. Lord of the Rings really has made an impact to
The view from the other side
The famous Hector's dolphin swim within Akaroa Harbour
New Zealand's tourist industry through opening foreigner's eyes to the lands' beauty.
I had a coffee in the Hermitage hotel and then made tracks along one of the trails at the mountains' base. Finally I'm putting my hiking boots to use!! It was nice to get my heart beating a little faster, although I'm not too sure if was from the hiking or the thought of Orlando. There were quite a few people on the trails looking as they though they were going to be off for a week or so. Seeing their frying pans swinging behind them, I was quite happy this was only an afternoon stroll for myself. I have 5 more weeks in this country to find bigger adventures!
Back on the road I steered the car towards the coast and made it to Oamaru. Having glanced in my guidebook I noted that the little blue penguin colony was on my list of sights to see. Figuring I would check out where to go in the morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the little birds came in from their day of fishing in about half an hour. Timing was perfect!
The joys of touring with a car certainly allow me to see soooooo much in one day!! I joined Aussie Carolyn for a tour of a couple of nests and saw a fluffy youngster. Funny little things they are. Our guide spoke of the little blue penguins like they were in a story book, but they really are the smallest of the penguin breed with their shiny blue backs. As the sun set, about 180 birds swam in to shore and were met by their other halves and hungry kids. Watching the birds over just a few minutes their individual characteristics were clear. The bully pushed others away from his nest area, and the nagging wives hollered and searched the crowds for their hubby's.
I left town with just enough time in the morning to explore the old Victorian area whilst the Sunday market stalls were being set up. Interesting buildings and old theatrical sets were the backdrop for artists to begin carving their jade and bone creations. There was even an old steam train that had been polished pristine for all of the tourists. I noticed that in a couple of weeks the 'Victorian Days' festival would
I can't seem to get away from it!
be featured, the photos certainly showed an entertaining few days. A shame that I was a couple of weeks to early!
Whilst driving down the coast to Dunedin, I stopped off for a couple of unique sights. The Moeraki Boulders are formed through thousands of years in the cliffs and look as though they roll out to sea. Sitting on the beach, some of the 5 foot high marbles have split in two and others have begun to crumble. I never thought much of looking at big rocks in the sand, but this was certainly different.
The next place I pulled over to was really for my own entertainment. I put myself back into the days of Austin Powers as I laughed at the sign for 'Shag Point'. Curious to see whether it was an area to meet and greet I sheepishly drove down the road expecting to hear a few giggles behind some parked cars. Much to my disappointment there was nobody there. Walking along the coastal path I saw a few fur seals snoozing on the rocks below. I read a few of the information notice boards and understood the area a lot more.
Bright blue skies, bright blue rivers and the calming green of the countryside
The 'shag' birds were also nesting in the area, and having a great time I'm sure.
Before long I arrived in Dunedin and was suitably impressed with the style of the buildings as I drove by. The railway station finished completion in 1906 and incorporated Oamaru stone within turrets and minarets. I continued to walk around town and saw a recurring theme of Scottish tributes. It seems as though Dunedin, when first being built, had intended to be the Edinburgh in New Zealand. Maybe this is why I felt so welcome here.
For my final day before venturing down to the southern tip of the southern island, I drove 25 kilometers along the Otago Peninsula. It was another extremely curvy road along the edge of the water and bliss to drive. Once I reached the end I was able to see the infamous shag birds nesting very close to the top of the cliff edge. I was even lucky enough to see two albatross soaring in the skies above me. With the largest wing span of any seabird (3.5 meters) it was quite a sight. But the sights for the day weren't over yet, as I
soon to be dinner
joined the last tour for the day at the 'Penguin Place'. I walked through trenches covered in camaflauge in order to not disturb the yellow eyed penguins nesting nearby. These penguins were much different to those little blues that I had seen in Oamaru. They lead a much more solitary life in addition to being nearly double the size.
So there you have it, my first week in New Zealand. I have seen so so so much in such a short period of time. The fact that I've covered only one portion of one coast line on one island makes me thankful that I have another four weeks to explore. There really is, so much more to come.
Love to everybody,
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