All good things come to an end (9/27/09)
Today is the rainiest it’s been in a while here in Wellington, so i’m curled up on the couch with a cup of Chai tea, watching The Sword in the Stone and determined to finish the story of my trip around the South Island.
Sunday morning, Maggie and I were hoping to finally do that horseback riding, but stormy weather meant the ground was too muddy for the stables to risk. And so, we headed on our way, back to Christchurch through the middle of the island. The drive was as beautiful as any other I have experienced here. Golden fields flanked by rolling hills and snow capped mountains. We had hoped to stay at Lake Tekapo, a beautiful lake near Mt. Cook. However rain and high hostel rates had us pushing on, towards Christchurch. We arrived in Christchurch that evening and found a hostel in the centre city.
Luckily for us (and our wallets…) we have a friend in Christchurch. Allen lives across the street from me here in Wellington, and his family was gracious enough to host us for the next three nights. We received amazing hospitality from his parents. It was great to eat a home cooked meal and not have to get up and leave every day. Christchurch is a beautiful city. It is much more spread out than Wellington and has a much more suburban feel. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, Maggie grabbed a flight home to Wellington to get some work done before classes started again on Monday. On Wednesday, Lauren and I met up with another friend, Jacob, to do some kayaking in the botanical gardens in Christchurch. It was a spectacular day in the sun and a great way to spend our last day in Chch.
EARLY Thursday morning, Lauren and I hopped on the TranzCoastal train. This is the same company that took me from Auckland to Wellington back in July. The train offered gorgeous views of the coast and after a few hours, we arrived in Kaikoura. Kaikoura is a small town on the eastern coast that attracts tourists by the boatload during the summer months for whale watching, swimming with dolphins and hanging out with seals. In the winter though, the town is pretty dead, albeit beautiful. We enjoyed a day on the beach and did a little souvenir shopping. That night marked my second late night trip to a hospital as Lauren and I took a walk to the Kaikoura hospital to make sure Lauren’s persistent cough was nothing serious. The walk was beautiful as the full moon had risen and was shining off the snow on the top of the mountains. If only I had my camera… I did manage to get some good shots earlier in the day though.
On Friday it was back on the train to Blenheim. Blenheim sits in the heart of the Marlborough wine region, home of some of the best vineyards in New Zealand. Natalie lives here and once again, we were fortunate to stay in a real home. Natalie’s parents are amazing hosts and our first night, we headed to a local country club to participate in a quiz night. Quiz nights are huge in New Zealand and we dominated, coming in second. We were only one point behind the first place team and they had bought a few answers. But second place was good enough for us. We walked away with a cheese board filled with snacks and four bottles of wine. And all in support of the girl guides (sort of like girl scouts with a boy scout feel).
On Saturday, Natalie’s parents made us an awesome outdoor breakfast and then we left on our tour of some vineyards. We visited a few vineyards and another place that makes different liquors and alcoholic ice cream toppings. After several tastings and coffee on a sun drenched patio, we headed back home. Our time in Blenheim was great. It was awesome to see Natalie again and to see some of the wine I’ve been reading about for over a year.
Sunday was our last train trip followed by a ferry ride across the Cook strait; back to the North Island. It was a relaxing trip home but definitely bittersweet. I had such an amazing time on the South Island and I was not looking forward to getting back to the grind of school. At the same time, I hadn’t seen my flatmates (except Natalie) in over two weeks, and it would be nice to sleep in the same bed every night. Looking back, my trip across the South Island was incredible and I’ll never forget it. Maggie & Lauren were amazing travel partners and we’ll have stories to tell for years to come.