Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Back to Christchurch

PHIL: Day 51/6 April

view of Christchurch on the Port Hills
Up the coast back to Andy & Rachel’s at Christchurch. A rather long and tedious drive made more enervating by heavy traffic (by NZ standards) due to being Good Friday. 

Everything in the country seems to be closed as the Kiwis take their religion more seriously than in UK so we opt for a walk in the Port Hills before descending to Andy’s home. 

In our absence in his ‘ute’ he has been using the quaintly-termed ‘White Shitter’, an affectionate and typically New Zealand name for his ancient Toyota saloon. 
Now we plan the departure for North Island, bringing it forward from Monday to Sunday in order to visit a new aviation museum being set up by Peter Jackson, the director of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films.

The 'ute' has done us well!
We expect to stay overnight near Blenheim with Per Rold, a balloonist who made his money setting up duty-free on the ferries between Denmark and Sweden back in the ‘70s.

ALLIE: DAY 51: Friday, 6th of April

A long drive back to Christchurch with a few stops on the way

What a drag! The distances don’t seem to be far in this country but the time it takes to travel them seem to take ages. But actually I don’t really understand why? The roads are mainly empty – except for today since it was the start of the Easter holidays – and we normally drive at around 100 km per hour. Still, for the 250 km from Oamaru to Christchurch we seem to drive the whole day!

The morning is actually glorious and I start our with a nice run to the botanical gardens. Breakfast at the hotel is served by the owner himself. A nice chatty man who sits down with us and talkes about this and that. He and his wife both being in their mid 60ies have actually never been to Europe and want to travel there soon to tour around for a year in search of their ancestors.

aircraft museum in Geraldine
On route nr 1 we pass the non descript town of Timaru. The place is dead empty. When we are not sure whether we can leave the car parked as it is, Phil goes into the tourist office and asks the lady there.

She just says:”Well, don’t worry. I bet all the police is out at the beach today!” Great! That’s where I want to go now. So we drive out to Caroline beach and I dare to try to cold 14 degree waters of the eastern sea of Timaru. Still, nice and refreshing after all this driving.

We continue up to the small town of Geraldine where Phil wants to look at a museum (of course with aircraft in it!). But it’s shut. Good Friday, no wonder, I think. But Phil can’t understand it. In England this would be just the time when museums and shops would be open since people are on holiday. Yes, but this is the most holy day in Christian societies and New Zealand seems to stick with that.
The town is full of Japanese tourists and so we even find ‘Macha, Green tea Ice cream’ in the shops.

A long boring road takes us through the flat Canterbury plains back to Christchurch. We get the car washed and refilled and drive up a little hill to do a walk (my strong request!).

Wonderful views across Christchurch and the mountains and still lovely sunshine – so far for this weather forecast that was predicting a rainy front to come in today.

End up back at Andy’s house around 5pm and start heavy drinking… the sequence is: Champagne, White wine (3 different New Zealand types) and the smokiest, peatiest Whiskey both Phil and I have ever tried called Smokehead!

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