31.12.2010 - 23.01.2011
We arrived on the South island where we plan to spend 3 of our 5 weeks in New Zealand. We got off to a good start with a walking tour of Christchurch to check out the earthquake damage and find a spot to celebrate the arrival of 2011. The earthquake damage ranged from total to subtle. The venue for the evening would be the Irish bar on Cathedral square. The square itself playing host to an open air celebration with fireworks once we got bored, or kicked out, of the pub.
Several Guinness later and a round of Auld Lang Syne and it’s 2011 – Happy New Year.
We hired a car for our time in New Zealand and the roads are a joy to drive. Only three complaints – the roads through the mountains are quite windy and my driving makes Niamh sick. Second is the lack of radio stations (if you exclude the AM stations playing Christian rock.) The final complaint is the number of campervans which might be more numerous than the sheep.
If a person sat down to design a country to serve as the world’s geography field trip then New Zealand would be it. Glacial valleys, river valleys, volcano craters, tourism, hydro-electric power are just some of the GCSE curriculum available here. Thanks to Niamh’s coaching I am now bandying around terms such as terminal moraine with the best of them.
Our tour has taken in mountains (which I wanted to climb but sensibly wasn’t allowed to,) glaciers (which I was allowed to climb on,) valleys and hills. We have driven, kayaked, walked, ice walked and power jet boated.
We’ve seen penguins, seals, sea lions, harris hawks and dolphins – all in their natural environments. We’ve yet to see a Kiwi though.
Some of the sites have just been amazing, Milford Sound, Mount Cook and the Speights Brewery being a few that particularly stand out. Even the places you drive through, to get to whichever extraordinary destination you are heading to, would be a destination in its own right back home.
Other than the wildlife and landscapes we have also managed to catch up with a couple more friends. Saul and his lovely girlfriend, from university days and James and Gayle from Cayman days. Both ended up in too much consumption and a painful drive the following day.
Next we head to the North Island where we hope to find volcanic activity and radio reception.