Christchurch and Beyond

The last few days of my traveling have been a bit hectic. On Thursday I took a cheap bus from Dunedin to Christchurch, which was an express route as opposed to the laborious two-day trek with a stop over in Queenstown on the Stray bus. The plains were relaxing with their endlessness and I devoured Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell.Pulling into Christchurch, I lugged my new rolling duffel bag to my hostel for the first of two restless nights. It seemed like every truck and souped up Honda in the city drove under my window.

It took me about five hours to do everything in Christchurch: wandering the huge botanical gardens with the magnificent peacock fountain, poking through the Canterbury museum and browsing the art gallery. There was a great exhibit on perceptions of nudity. I even picked up a cheap chicken wrap from a street vendor before returning to relax in front of a movie at the hostel.

My much-anticipated TransAlpine ride through the southern alps was literally derailed. A freight train blocked the track, so our spectacular ride concluded with an hour bus ride and a late arrival. While the mountains were stunning, the gorges deep, and the 20-plus tunnels impressive, I’m sure it would have been much prettier with a thin layer of snow to sparkle in the sun. Luckily, I took an InterCity bus to Nelson. The driver was more than happy to wait for the delayed train passengers. I’m not so sure a Naked Bus driver would have done the same.

We took the same west coast road as the Stray bus, and it was nice to see the Tasman sea rocking against the island in the sunlight instead of gloomy rain. I checked into a cute hostel in Nelson Saturday night anticipating another sleepless night. My flight to Auckland was at 7.30 am on Sunday. The counter agent for Air New Zealand gave me an earful about trying to carry on my backpack (too long, they said) but no one checked my liquids, gels, and aerosols for the three ounce limits. There was no security at all, just a bubbly lady checking my ticket (without anyone asking me for an ID) and pointing me towards the runway to climb up into the plane. Luckily it was a nice one-hour flight across the Cook Straight and up to the top of North Island.

I will be the first to admit, I do not function well on sleep deprivation, especially when there is nowhere to get a fresh sandwich on top of that. When Naked Bus sent me several texts saying various buses I was supposed to be on were late,I was not a happy camper. Bronson finally came and picked me up. I popped myself into a bar in Mount Eden and called home while I waited for him. Then we drove around the city, visiting a park on one of the nine hilltops of Auckland and splitting pasta and pizza for dinner before heading back up to Paihia.

It was so nice to sleep in all morning and watch TV all day while doing my laundry. The past few weeks had been exhausting, though I had a fabulous time with my new British friends glacier hiking and bungy jumping. Bronson took today off from work and we’re going to Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri with a picnic. It’s a perfect day, just overcast enough that the temperature is comfortable. I’m so grateful to have these last few days with him. Somehow we really became friends.

My flight home is Thursday at 3.40 pm, I’m excited to watch some new movies on the flight and get back home. But it is sad to be leaving this place. The fairies and hobbits have transformed this magical little country into an ultimate fantasy world. Perhaps someday I can take a few months off, hide away in the mountains with the snow and my imagination. Perhaps I’ll be back here to write my novel, my contribution to humankind.

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