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April 6th 2012
Published: April 12th 2012
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6th April ’12 KL to Christchurch, New Zealand

5.30am came around all too quickly and we stumbled about gathering our rucksacks and making our way downstairs to our lift to the airport. Everything went quite quickly and easily at the airport and we boarded our Air Asia 10 hour flight to NZ. Being Air Asia there were no films or fancy entertainment consoles (unfortunately) but we managed to watch one on the netbook and read and time passed. Then we landed at Christchurch and the culture shock began! All the staff were super friendly and everyone spoke English! The only hold up occurred when they asked if we had any boots with us and then we had to go to another area to have my hiking boots checked – they took them away and cleaned them – result!! Then our bags had to be x rayed and my boots pulled out again, it’s something to do with carrying biological nasties and infecting their sheep I think.

Once through all the checks and stuff we were met by a man from the shuttle bus we had pre-booked to get to our motel as by now it was nearly midnight and the car rental place was closed. Again how lovely and friendly the staff were, showed Howard where to find an ATM and me were to go for a fag. I ended up in the front seat next to Gerhard our South African driver, who was super friendly and chatted away to me and gave us a mini guided tour of the results of the earthquake on our way to our motel. It was apparent that Christchurch used to have many really lovely buildings but now everywhere you looked were either vacant lots or barricaded off buildings waiting to be restored. The roads were also really uneven and lumpy as a result of earthquake damage.

The next surprise was when we arrived at the motel, tapped to the office door was an envelope with our name on it saying your room is number 352 doors open and the milk’s in the fridge! And sure enough it all was. We finally got to bed only to be woken up at regular intervals by the baby next door crying.

7th April ’12 Christchurch

Today we got our hire car and it is great to be independently mobile again and started off by going to the local shopping mall (living the dream ha ha) and just gawped at all the lovely food on offer!! We also got not a shock but confirmation of the really high prices of everything. Still it was nice to be back among familiar things and to hear English spoken everywhere. After a subway sarnie we drove through the city – and saw the totally cordoned off city centre and then headed out to Akaroa.

It was about a 50 mile drive through gorgeous countryside, all rolling hills and very English looking, which then led up into the mountains. At the top we got a fantastic view over the valley with its lake in the centre and the small town on its bank, all ringed by mountains and with a brilliant blue sky and sunshine it was a real picture.

We drove down to Akaroa and stopped to have a look around. The place had a lovely old fashioned feel and everything seemed to happen at a really relaxed pace. We found an auction going on, on a playing field, where 3 men on the back of a pick up truck were driven around the field stopping by various lots and auctioning them off. It was great fun and I was shocked when an old singer trestle sewing machine table with a big lump of wood attached to the top of it went for $95 – I only hope the YMCA manage to get something similar for the one I gave to them. Most of the lots looked like rejects from car boot sales but they still got plenty of bids.

We wandered along by the river, past everyone eating ice creams and managed to resist getting ourselves one. Then we drove back along the scenic tourist road which led high into the mountains and had views down to the sea and various small bays. We drove back to Christchurch via Lyttleton which is a port town where Howard informed me he had docked many moons ago when in the Merchant Navy – he didn’t recognise anything though.

That night we found a pub back at the shopping centre and had the most gorgeous meal – a sharing platter of ribs and steak with a huge salad and wedges, it was divine and caused more arguments about who had ate the most and making sure the ribs were fairly divided than any food had done in the whole 4 months in Asia!! We have now gone in the space of 2 days from a meal for 2 with 2 drinks for £3 in Malaysia to a meal for 2 with 2 drinks for £30 in NZ, we won’t be doing that too often unfortunately as the budget won’t stand it, but it was a great first meal!

No sleep until about 3 am – people having a party outside in one of the neighbouring

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