Christchurch--March 7-12, 2006
I made the decision to leave Australia and head to New Zealand. I have already pushed my trip back by almost a month and decided that March and April are better months to be in New Zealand (end of summer and into their fall) than waiting until May or June. As everyone knows, I don't really like cold weather so I made my decision to go to NZ, with an open ended ticket to go back to Oz when it is time.
My first stop was Christchurch which is on the South Island. I made this my first stop also to beat the weather. I figured I would work my way south then back up toward the North Island next month. Christchurch is a nice city, although the second largest in NZ, it still has a small town appeal. The city center is highlighted by the Cathedral that was celebrating 150 years the weekend I was there.
I love to visit the local markets wherever I am. I have to say that the one in Christchurch was nice, with all sorts of stalls and entertainment, but they just don't compare to some of them in Asia. Definitely missing the pigs intestines and the chicken feet!
I did a lot of debating about how I was going to get around New Zealand. It is a small country with a network of buses and trains as well as what they call "Jump on Jump off" backpacker buses that cover both islands. I also considered renting a car but in the end I made a decision to buy... yes I said buy a car. There is a big market for backpackers who want the freedom to go where they want, when they want and it is very easy to buy a used car. I did some test driving... yes they drive on the "wrong" side of the road here. The first cars I drove where manual and that was difficult to remember to shift and stay on the left side. In the end I decided on a 1990 Honda Civic Shuttle, complete with cooler, 2 lawn chairs, and cooking equipment if I decided to do any camping.
Another view of me with the car.
Great scenery in the background.
Akaroa--March 12-14, 2006
My first stop in my new car was a city called Akaroa which is southeast of Christchurch on the coast in an area called Banks Peninsula. This is quite a relaxing retreat. An old French settlement. Here is the view of the entire bay which was created from a volcano many thousands of years ago.
The owner of the hostel I stayed at has recently bought a sailboat that takes cruises out into the bay to see wildlife and the magnificent views. We saw a dozen or so Hector's Dolphins, which are endangered (only 3000-4000 left), as well as a albatross and some seals that take up residence in the bay.
The town only has about 600 full time residents. I spent one afternoon playing Petanque with some locals (similar to bowling, but different). Nice area for scenic drives and relaxing days by the water.
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