Back to Christchurch

Ok, I know I was going to jump into the North Island of New Zealand but I found a few more pictures and stories that I forgot to include on the South Island.  I guess that’s what happens when you are writing about a trip that was ten years ago!  So let me back up here and return to where I left off in the Milford Sound.  To read the last post on exploring the Milford Sound click here.

We rose early to the morning sun coming over the serene Milford Sound.  It was yet another glorious day and not a soul was in sight.  Paul and I enjoyed our last hour of solitude while we sailed back to shore where we would be boarding the oddly shaped Real Journeys bus back to Christchurch.

Everyone was tired and quiet on our long ride back to Queenstown.  I for one looked awful, like I’d been punched in the eye.  Actually I had an unfortunate encounter with a sand fly (that nasty thing bit me hard!) the day before while I was kayaking in the Sound and my left eyelid had swollen up like a balloon!  That was a fun one to explain to a bunch of strangers!

We arrived in Queenstown by late afternoon and headed straightaway to the tourist office.   We had one more thing to accomplish in Queenstown:  Our very last adrenaline-pumping activity, Jet-boating.  Luckily there was one last ride of the day.  If we hustled, we would be able to catch the 5:30 pm jet-boat on the Shotover River just outside town.  I should have been scared when I met our driver, a twentysomething Kiwi with a dangerous grin on his boyish face.  But “no worries” as they love to say in New Zealand.

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Two rainy days in Christchurch, New Zealand

We landed in Christchurch a little before noon and I found it peculiar to be setting my watch ahead twenty-one hours.  For me, flying long distance is one of the most surreal experiences ever.  To pass through so many time zones and to see the sun’s confusion of setting and rising is startling.  I always am amazed and bewildered when I finally step foot off the airplane that transported me miles away from home, across continents and oceans and into a new, unexplored place.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was feeling like a deflated balloon when we finally stepped foot into the Christchurch airport. The gray skies and pelts of rain were effecting my mood.  Thankfully our luggage had made it through three different flights and two airlines (that is always a bonus!).  Yet we had a little mishap with the car rental agency that took an hour to square away.  It was my first encounter with a native Kiwi, and I instantly realized that New Zealanders are perhaps the most laid-back, fun-loving people on earth.

We were finally on our way, heading in our rental car towards Christchurch while driving on the “other” side of the road and trying not to get killed by forgetting to turn into the “other” lane at the roundabouts.  This proved to be a daunting challenge that would remain with us for the full two weeks of the trip.   For some reason driving on the left side of the road seemed against reason.  It also always proved a challenge to remember to not hit the windshield wipers as opposed to the turn signal when we were desperately trying to pass.  Countless times, in the heat of the moment, my husband inadvertently hit the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal while we were frantically trying to pass some unexpected soul along the curving New Zealand roads.  This should have made us panic but instead we burst out into laughing attacks which only made it worse.

Christchurch is the provincial capital of Canterbury and the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island.  Often viewed as a gateway into the South Island’s magical wonders, Christchurch is a fabulous launching off point and definitely requires a few days to visit this lovely, charming town with outrageously delicious food.

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New Zealand rain and the deflated balloon

We landed on the emerald-green South Island of New Zealand into sheets of rain.  After three flights and twenty plus hours of flying, we had finally made to Christchurch, New Zealand.  Middle Earth as it is known in the fictitious, yet sensational Lord of the Rings.

The initial relief and excitement of finally arriving in New Zealand after months and months of planning and anticipation, was instantly flattened like a popped balloon as the all too familiar disappointment and letdown set in.  I honestly have no idea why I experience this kind of traveler’s schizophrenia.  But it always happens and always on the first day of arrival.  Perhaps it is the fact that I typically spend months planning a trip, dreaming about it and getting my emotions all worked up.  Then when I finally get to that place I’d been dreaming about forever (in this case, over a year of planning was involved), my emotions collapse.  Or else it could be the complete exhaustion and jet lag of traveling across 19 time zones.  Seeing the sun set, and set, and rise once more.

It didn’t help that the weather was dreadful.  Here we were in the midst of springtime in New Zealand and the weather was equally as bad if not worse than the gray, cold November days we were trying desperately to escape in Minnesota.  It was a meager forty degrees farenheit and the rain was unending, bitter and cold.  I felt my spirits dwindling down like the pouring rain.   But I knew only too well that I couldn’t let poor weather spoil my fun.  My husband and I had waited over a year for this trip and we intended to have an unforgettable time.

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