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Published: October 4th 2006
The Waimakarir River
The views of the ribbon like river were amazing!
Woke up in the morning and felt a lot more fresh then the previous few days. We set off towards the largest city in the South Island - Christchurch. Along the way we took in the sights of Mt Hutt and Mt Somers, stopping once for lunch at a small but quaint café in Methvan. Once we arrived I managed to direct us to Stonehurst with no problems. This is a hostel which has campervan power points out the back, which was great. We got to use all the facilities but still sleep in our own bedroom on wheels. After cooking us a lovely meal we watched a bit of trashy Tv then got our heads down for some much needed rest.
In the morning we decided to spend the day trying to see all the sights Christchurch has to offer near the city centre. We walked around the square for a while and people watched. There was lots of activity taking place… market stall‘s, people playing chess on the large chess board and many other’s just passing through.
We saw the tram going around and thought that we would find out the cost in order to get to many
You can see Mt Sommer and Mt Hutt from the town at the foot.
of the sites quickly. It turned out not to cost too much so we brought a ticket (which was valid for two days unlimited travel on the tram). In the main station for the tram is a very interesting clock, little objects come out and tell a story, worth hanging around to catch if you take the tram. The tram ride itself was good, the driver gave a brief commentary and we managed to catch a glimpse of some Squares and statues. We did the whole loop so ended up back in the station. We walked out of the back and down a very sweet looking street, with the intent of going into a book store we had spotted whilst passing on the tram. Unfortunately this book store specialised in something we did really want to read about - can’t even remember what that subject was! Anyway, after this we decided to check out a local pub and find out where might be a good place to drink in the following night. After two pints of cider, a portion of fries/chips shared between us and a few conversations with the Scottish barman and a few others we left the Irish
This is where we climbed to the top of the spire.
bar we had been in and decided head back to the van. On the way we stopped to quickly check emails and I managed to stumble upon a shop selling old school style ‘lollies’. Why don’t they still sell proper hard boiled sweet in the UK?! That evening we opted for another quiet night in the van as we both were not feeling too full of energy.
The following morning we decided to do a few more touristy activities. So after Thommo wolfed down a full English breakfast at the café attached to the church we paid the small donation and went inside to take a look around. I must admit that this building was very beautiful and peaceful inside. We climbed the very narrow and winding staircase all the way up the spire to the top. The views were quite good from up high and we could see some of the places we had visited the previous day. On our return to the ground floor we purchased a certificate to show we had been all the way to the top, only a dollar or two. After arming myself with a fresh fruit smoothly we sat in the square
The egg at the back is the very entertaining clock. check out the old school tram!Fun to ride but quite slow!
for quite some time in the hope that the famous man dressed as wizard would make his appearance. Apparently he is there most fine weather days however, he didn’t show this day, was quite surprised as the sun was shinning and it really was not that cold. There was a lot of hype to watch taking place in the square though. The following day was the 100th year anniversary for the city so all the gear was being erected. After over half an hour of people watching we decided to take a punt up the river which runs pretty much straight through the middle of the city. We purchased tickets from the visitors centre and proceeded to the river to wait for the next available punt. Being winter there was only one punt at work and as we just missed one journey we sat down on a nearby bench. A very nice elderly couple joined us on the bench and we had a conversation with them about the places we had ventured to in there home country, the USA. Can not remember where they were from but they were very pleasant and friendly to chat too, made the 30min wait
Steep steps up!
go a lot faster! The punt up the Avon River was so peaceful and calm in comparison to all the usual noises and goings on that take place in a fairly large city. I am not really sure why but on the return leg of the half hour trip I began to feel overwhelmingly ill and really did not enjoy the rest of the punt. Anyway I think it is more fun to paddle yourself up and down a river than pay for someone to do it for you! I think a migraine was trying to spoil our plans of meeting up with Monique for a few drinks and a catch up that evening. So after purchasing some painkillers and a large bottle of water Thommo helped me get back to the van and I crashed out in the back for a few hours. That short sleep did me the world of good and after showering we went over to another hostel across the park where Mon was staying. We all walked to the bottle shop to make the night a cheep one. However they would not serve us as not all three of us had passports on us, only
Punt on the Avon
Such a nice day but still cold!
driver licenses! Good ol’ Thommo was not going to let that stand in out way so he kindly got our passports and walked the 20mins to the bottle shop by himself. When he got there and explained the woman could not remember what me and Mon looked like so nearly refused to serve him again! Not sure what he did but he turned up with the goods in hand. We drank these drinks in the lounge room of Mon’s hostel, where we also chatted to a few others there. We headed out and visited and few pubs until we found a nice small club where we could shake our stuff on the dance floor. We had tried to get into another pub but were informed by the very camp man on the door that this was the local gay club and that they didn’t really want straight people in there. We decided to go to another club and after hanging round outside for a while trying to get in we decided to call it a night and head back to the van. It was great to catch up with Mon again, she was due to move out into a flat
Chess from Bell tower
Quite a good idea i think. Lots of people were watching or playing every time we walked through the square.
in the following few days and was looking for work. I hope it worked out well Mon?
The following morning we had to check out by 10am and unfortunately we didn’t get up early enough to go into the town first to witness some of the celebrations. So we decided to just get on the road as soon as possible. I still wasn’t feeling too well and the drinking the night before sure didn’t make me feel any better! I really quite liked Christchurch and would like to go back one day to see all the other things we missed out on.
Once we reached Hanmer Springs I decided it would be nice to have a little kip in the back. After half an hour or so Thommo’s nagging got too much and I got up and went with him to the pools. It was a very late afternoon but still very busy at the public pools. The place is good though, I think it was 16 different spa pools all ranging in temperature from 350c to 410c! We started off in a 360c pool and then decided to seek out the really hot ones. I had forgotten
to take off my rings and after having located the hot pools and found a place to sit I realised my rings had tarnished! So after removing them we stayed in that smelly hot pool for quite a while. Thommo started to fell very dizzy so we moved back to one of the larger cooler pools. This place was great to unwind tired muscles in but boy it does stink and makes your very thirsty. Once we left we stopped at the takeaway store opposite and picked up dinner, we had forgotten to pick up supplies from Christchurch! The blue cod there was very nice, I really like the flavour of this fish. That evening we were both so tired that we soon crashed out after eating.
In the morning we got up and decided to give the crazy golf and the maze a go. This attraction was only a stones throw from the campsite which was a bonus. We tackled the maze first, you had to locate symbols attached to the walls. The symbols had a word associated with them and you had to find them all to fill in the card you were given at the start.
One of the crew listens out for whales, he did a good job of finding four!
It didn’t take too long so we shortly moved on to the golf. I was shockingly rubbish at this! There was loads of people all waiting for their turn at holes. A group of couples with a really cute baby were having a laugh in front of us while a bossy dad and his very patient son were behind us. It was interesting to watch others play but when it came to my go all the other people watching me really put me off. Due to this fact Thommo totally wiped the floor with me and was chuffed for the rest of the day. This was only the 3rd or 4th time I have ever played crazy golf and have come to the conclusion that I suck at it! We brought some lunch at the café across the street from the maze and then hit the road afterwards.
We took the inland scenic drive to Kaikoura. Upon arrival we checked into the campsite and chilled for a while before having dinner.
The following day Thommo drove us down to the water front and into a car park with more caravans then I have ever seen in one place!
Once they dive we were informed they stay down for 30mins!!! Was impressed
We checked in for the whale watching tour and watched a interesting video about attempts to catch baby Giant Squid. We were quite lucky with our tour, a whale was stopped just off shore after we had only been aboard for ten minutes or so. We watched it for a short while and then took loads of snaps when it finally decided to dive down. In total we saw four different whales (one of them twice),a few seals, a wondering Albatross and many other sea birds. I think everyone one the boat was very satisfied at having seen so much wildlife. We had heard of people that didn’t even get to see one whale! In my opinion the tour was definitely worth the money.
Afterwards we ventured along the coastal road to Blenheim. This drive was very scenic but we were also pushed for time to make it there in order to get into the camp site. We stopped once on the way to try to find some baby seals one of the boat crew had told us live up a river near a small waterfall. They were not there when we got there, I figure it was fairly
late on in the afternoon so their parents would soon be returning from the sea with a meal for them!
Once we reached Blenheim the campsite office had just closed but they had a night intercom so we checked in and tried to find a stop. Easier said than done in the dark! But we found one in the end and hooked it all up. There was a nice play area for kids just outside our van and there was a very energetic girl bouncing around and hanging off things. I spoke to her mother for quite a while until the little girl tired herself out. In the morning we decided the van was so over due a wash. The dirt roads in the very south had caked mud onto every part. So we did our best to make it shine and then proceeded to Picton. We stopped of in the supermarket to stock up then caught the afternoon ferry back across to the North Island.
I can honestly say that I really enjoyed our adventure around the South Island of New Zealand and would love to go back there again soon, maybe for the summer season next
We went around this rock on the boat to see the seals, they really stink!
Just a short note to apologise for being so far behind with these blogs, its not as easy to publish them now as it was in the States. We are actually in Darwin in OZ at the moment. Will try to finish NZ off soon so you can all hear what we think of OZ. Hope all ok, thank you to the people that gave me a message on my recent birthday.
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