Christchurch, New Zealand And So Begins the Wandering

I’m off.

Day 1 in New Zealand. The start of the whole huge thing.

New Zealand has something Australia doesn’t have:


They also know how to make greasy burgers. And they sell them on the street for $3 late at night. Australia, look into it.

Christchurch is small: about 350,000 people, but it’s by far the largest city on the south island.

Laying cities out in square blocks seems efficient, but it’s a bad idea. You need a bit of curviness and diagonal-ness to know where you are and where you’re going. Otherwise everything looks the same. Also, it’s boring.

#1 thing I wish I hadn’t said to myself before I left:

It’ll be cheaper in New Zealand.

It ain’t.

My room in the hostel is smaller than the elevator in my old apartment building.

New Zealand has 10 free-to-air channels. Australia has 5. What gives?

I am not a tolerant person. I know that. But if there’s anyone in the world more irritable than me, it’s my sister. She came here four months ago, and I warned her about the accents. They didn’t bother her.

They annoy the shit out of me.

“You’re in room number sucksteen. The security code is sucks two sucks two. Happy Hour is at sucks-thirty. Internet use is sucks bucks an hour. Tourist info is on channel sucks.”

I get it. You people talk funny. I swear, they go out of their way to use that number. You’d think they had some problem with the letter “I,” but you know what? At night, Lorimer Square is filled with six offenders.

It bothers me. It bothers me a lot.

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens were beautiful. Thanks for the tip, Kristin. And I found the place with those bowls you liked. No web site, but I got a catalog for you.

Reality has set in about getting around down here. The buses are a pain in the ass. And when I found out they’re tour buses with a 50 person capacity…I’d rather scrape my eyes out with a fork. So I’m renting a car. All the rentals are about $55+ a day, except for this one place outside the city that charges $35. I’m really worried about it. There’s obviously a catch.

It’s a late 90’s Toyota Corrola. Insurance isn’t necessary and there’s a limit of $1500 in damages. GST included. No extra fees. I can’t figure out what it is, but there’s gotta be something. Maybe it’s that the steering wheel is on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CAR! That’s going to be tricky. After two and a half years in Australia, I managed to avoid ever driving. Anyway, I’ll find out what’s wrong with it tomorrow.

Alex, help me out with this itinerary: I’m driving out to Greymouth tomorrow. Then down to see the pancake thingies if I have time, and a day hike on Fox Glacier on Saturday and checking out one of those glowworm caves. Then I’ve gotta rush down to Milford Sound for the trek on Tuesday. On Friday, I’m going back up along the east coast and I’ve gotta reach Kaikoura by that next Tuesday. In Kaikoura I’m doing a combination kayak/dive with seals, swimming with dolphins, and a whale/albatross watch. Sheesh. That’s a lot of animal-watching.

Am I missing anything major? Abel Tasman, I know, but I can’t fit it in. The Milford Sound trek splits my trip in half and doesn’t leave me enough room to stray that far. Marlborough Sound I might do if I have time to get there and back before my flight out.

All advice welcome.

Nae, here’s that great picture: