We departed this beautiful town and arrived into Christchurch in early afternoon. Christchurch, or “ch-ch” as it’s locally called, is said to be the most “English” city in all of New Zealand, and when you arrive it’s easy to see why. They have a town square that centers around a catherdrawl, red telephone booths, and a huge park and botannial garden.
I was off on errands, as I had to to the post office and pick up a new rain jacket before the shops closed(story to follow.) Afterwards, I had a late lunch at what was my favorite thing in churstchurch, the Art Center.
What looks like an abadoned buildilng is actually part of a series of old buildings that have been restored and now hold upwards of twenty galleries and shops, cafes, even a movie and play theater. I wandered athrough the halls and around corners looking at the shops after lunch, where you could watch people carving word, or creating pottery. Somehow I ended up at the fudge shop… weird.
Afterwards, I felt like I should head over to what are supposed to be spectacular Bottanical Gardens and have a look around. I walked in and did the first, shortest loop I came to, when I suddenly just felt exhausted. It didn’t help that I knew my hostel (and bed) was less than a block away. I went back to just ‘rest’ for a minute when all of a sudden I was waking up and it was after 6:00. I feel bad that I didn’t see much more of Christchurch, but it was obvious that ten days on the road was getting to me. I went down to make my dinner and just hung out in the lounge the rest of the evening, gearing up for what I knew was going to be a very exciting day in Kaikoura.
Day 11: Chiristshuch to Kaikoura
I was excited as I knew Kaikoura was to be another wildlife experience, but this time for marine life. KaiKoura itself means “eat” (kai) + “crayfish” (koura) so the town is known for it’s seafood. I had signed up for the whale watching expedition, as they say you can see them all year around off of this coast! The weather had also been exceptionally good the whole time I was on the south island, as it’s supposedly winter here but the sky was clear almost every day! In anycase, they said that rain was coming in, so with my new rain jacket, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from seeing the whales!
We arrived in Kaikoura and when I got dropped off at my hostel, I opened our own window in the room was was breathless. The view was stunning. I had to stay at YHA hostels the whole trip (buying bulk discounted vouchers to keep the cost down) and I frequently found that they were a little ways out of the city center, but I didn’t mind walking to the whale center while this was the view.
We got on the boat, with a sea sickness and bad weather warning in affect, took off. The reason that there are so many whales and dolphins around is that within a short distance off shore is a huge underwater canyon, where the nutrients are apparently irresistable to the marinelife. Sperm whales in particular are common sights year round, and what we were looking for today, but at the right times of the year you can also spot Orcas and even Blue Whales (the largest animal on earth.)
They had a GPS loction already of a Sperm whale, so we took off towards the deep canyon and came across one right away! The crazy thing is that we only see less than 10% of their body and with them being the second largest animal it’s hard to even imagine how much is under the surface.
Also, I learned something I always wanted to know, which was how the sperm whale got its name… C’mon- admit it, you’re curious too. Well, If you know what a sperm whale looks like then you can envision the huge, sqaurish blob that is thier head. (google it if you don’t) So, apparently, the first people that ever caught a sperm whale, cut into it and all of this white-ish stuff oozed out, which they assumed to be part of the males reproductive system. Only when they then caught a female and the same thing happened did they realize it must be something else, but the name had stuck. In fact, what it is is that they have like a large cavatiy of like waxy whale oil- that’s found in the blubber of all whales but only the cranial cavity of the sperm whale. There are several theories, one being that it cools and warms to help the whale sink and float…. but regardless- the name is forever!
On our way back in, we’d heard about a school of Dusky Dolphins so we decided to swing by and take a look. Sure enough, there were HUNDREDS of Dolphins. They were leaping and doing flips, and swimming right next to the boat. It was so exhillerating. I took a short (shaky, but I blame the boat) video just so you could try and get an idea of how many there were all around us but my uploading success must have beena fluke as I can’t get it to work this time. You’ll have to settle for a solitary dolphin- but it’s doing an impressive flip, up close!
They dropped us back off at the center at the end of the beach and the bad weather that had eluded us for most of my south island trip finally turned up, and the mile walk back home was much less enjoyable. Thank goodness I had my new jacket.
Wait, you might ask, why did I NEED a new, albeit very cute, rain jacket)? Well, good question… I was going to omit this part of the story, but then I remembered that I didn’t believe in censorship and was stuck.
I was doing really well with this whole carry-everything-on-your-back-new-bed-every-night trip UNTIL… Dunedin. I should have known that staying in two days was going to make me too complacent and I was on the bus for only about twenty minutes, when I realized that I had left my black, rei, waterproof (in otherwords, can’t live without) rainjacket hanging peacefully on the back of the door. I was pissed… and embarassed, so when I arrived in Ch-ch, I had to get a replacement (thanks again, Mike). I called the hostel, who said if I sent them a prepaid package, then they would send it to me at Heidi’s- assuming it was turned in- but who knew how long that would take and I didn’t want to take any chances. Darn good thing, too. That night was stormy but I was content reading and packing up for my final day on the south island tomorrow.
Day 12: Kaikoura to Picton to Wellington
A day of travel and not much sight seeing to get my back on the north island… We left Kaikoura and arrived in Picton miday, just in time to grab some lunch before hopping on the 1:45 ferry. I grabbed a seat in the front of the vessel in the area of the in-demand reclining chairs and also where I could see some of the scenery.
Arrving in Wellington I grabbed some dinner and just chatted with the girls in my room until time for lights out. One of them had spent a month or so in Austrailia and send 200 postcards! Now, let me just break this down a little bit for you…. the cheap postcards here are NZ$0.50 but to send internationally is NZ$1.50 so that’s at least NZ$2.00 per postcard. NZ$400– you following? That’s equivilent to US$311.99! All I can say, is that I can think of tons better things to spend $300 on… although who knows. She probably has better karma than me…
Day 13: Wellington to Hastings!
Today I slept in as long as I could, but the check out time at the hostels is usually ten am, so can’t have too much of a sleep in and still have time to get ready and packed. I stored my backpack and went off in search my a leisurly brunch and read my book. I also completed my first ever So-do-ku, which I know has been all the rage for a while, but I’m a little behind. I bought a book for my bus ride back, and little did I know then what a good investment it would be.
I explored the downtown area a little more and bought the new Flight of the Concords CD (Yes, Mike. I’ll mail it to you after I burn it) They’re a local music duo/comedy that has started becoming popular in the state- pretty funny if you like that dry “Office” type humor…
Back to the hostel in time for lunch and to walk to the bus stop. The bus was right on time at 3:00 so I should have been rolling into Hastings at 7:45. However, little did I know was that right outside Wellington was a horrific accident on a two lane highway, where a truck had gone off the road and into a house! about thirty minutes outside the city we stopped and didn’t move again for two hours. Blair was still there to meet me at the bus stop a little after ten, and I crashed shortly after. With two days before back to school, I had to recover from my vacation!
All in all, I’m so thankful that I went on the trip, as the things I saw and did are once in a lifetime. I’ll be gaining a lot of experience this upcoming month with my “full control” in Room 8 and time is going to fly! While my future posts may not be as exciting (or detailed) as these from my south island trip, I’m sure they’ll still be worthwhile reading.