After a three hour flight from Cairns to Melbourne, four hours of waiting and another three and half hour flight we arrived already slightly tired in Christchurch at 5 AM. Before entering the beautiful country of New Zealand everybody has to go through the rigid custom and boarder control. Different to most other countries they are more interested that you don’t bring any fruits or dirty hiking boots in than in drugs – or at least one could think so. As we honestly indicated that we had a tent with us we were directed to the inspection lane where a friendly officer took our tent to a backroom for inspection. We saw through a small window into this room and witnessed how another inspector was using tweezers to clean the hiking boots of some other girl (no joke). Luckily our tent passed and also the subsequent x-ray of our luggage didn’t show any fruits. Probably if you get caught with fruits they would bring you to another room for some water boarding or so.
Now we had to wait for another two hours till the car rental company opened and we could pick up our car (it definitely felt good to have a smoothly running car again after our rather beaten up Ford Falcon in Australia). By then we were already pretty tired. Once we got the car we drove through rainy Christchurch to the Around the World Backpackers were we would stay for the next three nights. The backpacker was very cozy, clean and run by super-friendly Geri – what else can a traveler ask for.
As our rooms were not ready we headed off to do some grocery shopping and stock up on some essential camping gear for later on our trip. Once back at the hostel we were ready for a long long afternoon nap. Afterwards it was time for dinner and this was already the first day of our NZ-Adventure.
Well rested we started the next day. A short walk brought us to the center of Christchurch. You might (or might not) remember that the city was badly hit by two earthquakes in late 2010 and early 2011, the latter killing 185 people. As a result the central part of the city is still mainly a no-go-zone and we saw a lot of container and scaffolding which supported half-collapsed buildings. The scenery was quite scary and impressive at the same time to see what force the earthquake must have had.
We headed to the Canterbury Museum which had a good exhibition on Maori culture as well as insights into local Christchurch history. In addition it has rebuilt Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House (http://goo.gl/PuVVQ) – let’s call it a relocated tacky seaside house of a funny old couple (apparently the original house was visited by more than one million tourists). Afterwards we took a stroll in the very nice and large botanical garden with its wonderful flowers and 150 year old trees. Our day ended with some more grocery shopping and a nice home-made dinner.
The next we did a day trip to the Akaroa which is a peninsula (well actually it’s kind of an very old volcano crater) some 80 kilometers east of Christchurch. The weather was like the previous two days rather on the rainy side nevertheless already the drive to Akaroa was fantastic and showed a first impression of New Zealand’s beautiful nature. A lot of greenery, heaps of sheep and impressive mountain ranges.
After about an hour drive we arrived at our destination and went for a walk along the waterfront to the local lighthouse. Despite all the tourists from two big cruise ships (which were the target of some of Kevin’s nonsensical jokes) the town was quite sleepy and laid back. We supported the local economy with some mussels and fries for lunch. Afterwards the real highlight of the day followed – the drive back to Christchurch via the super winding scenic route. As you can perhaps guess from the pictures the scenery was breathtaking and hard to describe.
After dinner we visited a stand up comedy show at the World Busker Festival in Christchurch and almost wet our pants from laughing.