And so it begins… (9/13/09)
Hey there everyone. Sorry its taken me so long to start talking about my trip, but here goes!
So on the first Saturday of break, I got up early to finish packing, skyped home to get some addresses, and burned some CD’s. Then Lauren, Maggie and I hopped in a shuttle that took us to the airport. I haven’t done much traveling by air, but this was by far the most lax experience I’ve had in an airport. Electronic check in, self-baggage weighing, walking onto the plan and zero security. Literally we walked into the airport and walked out the back onto the plane. No metal detectors, no x-ray machines, nothing. This was probably because our plane was so small, but still, I’m used to high security just to get into NFA, so for a flight, my expectations are high.
A note here about Air New Zealand. I don’t know if its possible to get better service on a plane. They were amazing on my trans-pacific flight and lived up to the standard on this short domestic flight. On my 50-minute flight, I was given 4 biscuits (remember, that’s a cookie), 3 lollies (kiwi for candy) & 2 cups of coffee, one served as we were starting to descend. Definitely worth the $129 I shelled out for the flight.
Once we landed in Christchurch, girls manned the baggage claim while I called our car rental company to arrange for another shuttle (this one was free!). After tons of paperwork and some discreet flirting by Maggie to ensure our car came with a CD player, we got hooked up with our silver Toyota Platz (complete with CD player and digital speedometer). After stocking up on some necessities at Pak’n’Save (New Zealand’s Sam’s Club), we hit the road heading south. We saw an amazing sunset during the 3 hour drive to Oamaru, a small town in between the cities of Christchurch and Dunedin.
We had made a booking at a hostel called Chillawhile, which was a backpackers combined with an art gallary. It also came with free breakfast and free internet. A rare gem in New Zealand. After some delicious dinner (PB&J), I started to write some postcards and the girls tried to head to bed. One of the other people staying here was from Chicago but had been living in New Zealand working at a vineyard. We had an amazing conversation about wine, and I got a lot of awesome tips for wine here in New Zealand and back home. At this point (about midnight), Maggie was having a lot of trouble sleeping because of severe pain in her ear. With hopes that it was nothing serious, we headed out to the Oamaru hospital. A very confident nurse and a very sleepy, agreeable doctor decided it was just pressure in the ear. We returned to the hostel, Maggie tried to depressurize her ear and we got to sleep.
Another side note here. I have begun to notice that in every hostel in New Zealand, there’s at least one cat that also calls it home. However, Chillawhile did not come with a cat. Instead, it came with a ridiculously cute 2 year old. For the first hour we were there I don’t know what language she was speaking, but finally she started speaking English and showed me the animal center…which was completely in her imagination. While cute at night, I would have preferred silence in the morning. But we ate breakfast with her, got her to impersonate the Charlie Bit Me YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OBlgSz8sSM) and packed the car.
After a delicious lunch of cheese, bread & pepperoni on the beach, we took a short walk around the coast. Lauren nearly stepped on a seal, which allowed us to get closer to a seal than we probably ever will again. The coast here was as beautiful as every other New Zealand coast that I have seen. I hopped out to a rock in the surf, but after about 20 minutes, realised that the tide was coming in and I was about to float away. Whoops. I managed to escape without getting too wet, and we headed back to our car.
Next, we drove down the coast about an hour south to Moeraki, a small town famous for little else than dinosaur eggs. Well, not actual dinosaur eggs, just some pretty awesome naturally made boulders. These rocks formed thousands of years ago underneath the earth and erosion has caused them to be pushed out from the hill side and to roll down into the ocean. After a bunch of photos with these pretty sweet rocks, we headed to the village for a cup of coffee. This was probably the most scenic place that I’ve ever had coffee…and warm melty chocolate cake. Delicious.
Then it was back into the car for the remainder of our drive to Dunedin. Like every drive in New Zealand, it was absolutely fantastic and scenic to the max. We found a hostel to stay in, made a delicious dinner of pasta and headed to bed.
That’s my first two days in the south island. These updates may end up being lengthier than I intended…