Peter and Elizabeth - RTW 2009-11 travel blog

We finally saw Mount Cook on the drive to Christchurch!

Some city views - Cathedral Square

Some city views - Queen Vic statue

Some city views - tram!

Some city views - Captain Cook

Some city views - funky fountain

Some city views - punting down the River Avon

Me riding the penny farthing at the Canterbury Museum

Elizabeth riding the penny farthing at the Canterbury Museum having to stretch...

April 1, 2010

Today was a nice easy day with just a near four hour drive to Christchurch, a rush to the post office to post another box of goodies back before it shuts for the Easter weekend and a dash to the airport to drop the hire car back. Yep, pretty quiet day!

The drive to Christchurch was easy enough although the traffic was definitely heavier than any other day we’ve seen in NZ. Even so, it didn’t hold us up and we were soon at the hostel. The one notable thing about the drive was that we could actually see Mount Cook this morning as we left, the cloud cover being high enough today to reveal the peak! We checked in and asked at reception if the post office would be open on Saturday and we were told that after this afternoon it would not be open again until Tuesday! This meant we had a mad scramble to pack our final few things away and head round to the post office to post our souvenirs. The box weighed nearly 12kgs – weight I’d been carting around for quite a while. It was so good to get rid of it.

We quickly headed back to the car park and out to the airport. It isn’t too far and we handed the car back with no hassles. Including both south and north islands we have driven over 4,700kms in total! We caught the bus back into the city and I had a quick stop to get my hair cut and to buy a map.

By this time it was fairly late already and after a little laze around we headed out for dinner to a nearby Indian restaurant. The place was really big and didn’t feel like a traditional Indian restaurant but there were a few people in there and we managed to stuff ourselves with excellent curry. As we have considered extending our travels we are probably going to visit India now so I’ll really be looking forward to sampling the local versions of the food rather than the Westernised ones! 

April 2, 2010

We didn’t really have much of an idea what to do today. We had a (very) shortlist of things to do here but were really restricted by it being Good Friday. Walking through the pedestrian areas of the city we saw that almost all the shops were closed, except those selling souvenirs around Cathedral Square. I’m not sure how they get around the law and are able to open.

Nevertheless, the walk around the city was nice and we wandered along the riverside for a bit, enjoying the pleasant weather and peaceful surroundings. We headed to the Art Gallery for something to take up some time and it was pretty good. They had one exhibition there by a local woman photographer which showed lots of various naked poses, including men tucking their bits away to make them look “ladylike” as well as random other things. The exhibit didn’t really explain what the woman was trying to portray and it really just looked like an attempt by her to shock people with naked images. There was a comment book there and I refrained from adding anything but I really wanted to point out to her that the year is now 2010 and to the majority of the world a photograph of a naked person is not shocking but neither is it are without some kind of context or meaning.

We stopped for lunch at Dux-de-Lux. They brew their own beers here and we got to try some. Being Good Friday, alcohol can only be served if you are ordering food too, so thankfully we were both hungry. I had a Malay-style laksa curry with seafood and it was really good, if a little pricey. Elizabeth’s veggie enchiladas were just as expensive but looked pretty good too. She wasn’t so keen on her beer though!

After that we walked around a little longer before heading back to the hostel and chilling out. Hopefully more stuff will be open tomorrow and we can at least window shop a bit and enjoy a few more of the bars on our last full day in NZ.

For dinner we finished just about everything, which wasn’t a whole lot. A couple of ham sandwiches later, combined with a bottle of Seresin wine and some free Cadbury chocolates, our food resources were depleted and it left us another quiet evening to find something to do!

April 3, 2010

Our final full day in NZ and it is quite sad to think we’ll be leaving. We’ve been here for so long, really, but the time has flown and we haven’t had a bad experience or been to a bad place. Given our depleted food sources, we started the day with breakfast in Starbucks before heading to the Canterbury Museum.

The museum itself was OK but nothing out of the ordinary. It was something that didn’t cost a cent and took up some time for us to walk around. They did have a quite cool transport section which included some old vehicles and bicycles including a penny farthing which Elizabeth and I both had a pedal on! I could only just reach the pedals so you can imagine Elizabeth having some more trouble! The bird section in the museum was pretty good, too. Neither of us are big fans of birds generally but it was interesting to go through and see how many of the different species we had seen and identified since we had been in NZ.

After the museum, we wandered around the Botanic Gardens. It was such a beautiful day and the gardens were fairly busy. We had planned to walk around until we got hungry and we were chatting away so much that before we knew it we were both ready for a drink and some food. We had a voucher for a nearby bar giving us a pizza and a jug of beer for $15 so that was our first afternoon port of call. This was quickly followed by an Irish pub where we had a two for one voucher. We were certainly making the most of being hard-up backpackers. But that soon changed…

I had wanted to try and get some new jeans and had seen a sale on at one of the shops. We headed back there but it was still too expensive. We then popped next door into the Kathmandu shop where we wanted to get a new water bottle. Of course, we soon got side-tracked looking around and we saw some bags which were discounted 50%. Given Elizabeth’s bag was broken at the top and we were both getting fed up with trying to find stuff in our packs, we both decided to get one. They are a mix between a backpack and a suitcase which means that we can roll them or have them on our backs. This will come in handier when we are going around Europe and trying to find train stations! That was my justification, anyway!

So, having dropped those back at the hostel we headed to a bar called The Twisted Hop, via a little Greek take-out place for a falafel kebab! At the Twisted Hop they brewed their own beers here and, again, we had a 2 for 1 voucher. This voucher enabled us to get one tasting tray and get another free so it was a good chance for us both to try some beers. We got six beers each, most of which were the same and after having had a couple of beers earlier, plus a fair bit of food, we both struggled to drink all of our beer. This wasn’t helped by the fact they weren’t very good either – some being much too bitter and some being really watery. The pilsner they did was really bitter and it was all you could taste when you drank the rest of the beers! A bit disappointed, we headed back to the hostel to sort our stuff out and re-pack (again!) although Elizabeth did squeeze in a long nap, too!

For dinner we carried on the budget food day by getting a $10 curry from a local restaurant. There was way too much food there and we could’ve easily shared one. Nevertheless, we both went to bed thoroughly stuffed and contented and ready and raring to go tomorrow. It is just such a shame we are leaving NZ and although I like Australia I would much rather not have to spend a night there tonight. I’ve said to Elizabeth over the past few days that I’m quite sad to leave NZ and it almost feels like our trip is nearing the end. In reality, this isn’t the case and I just can’t wait to get to Santiago on Monday and a new country and city!

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