After a few pleasant days catching up with friends in London it was time to set of on my next adventure – a month in New Zealand.
The flight was surprisingly painless in spite of the length, and in no time at all I was disembarking on a rainy morning in Christchurch. I slept through the bulk of the flight to Singapore, then made a travel buddy on the flight from there to Christchurch and spent most of the journey chatting.
Although I knew that Christchurch had been seriously damaged by the recent earthquake, I hadn’t really been expecting the amount of damage evident. My initial impression of the place was pretty negative, with my arrival day spent getting some supplies and getting my bearings.
This proved difficult due to the lack of shops. The fact that it was raining and I’d just spent 24 hours travelling didn’t help with that first impression.
Fortunately the next day was much better, with the sun shining on my exploration. Though damaged, there are plenty of regrowth areas scattered throughout the city and it was fun to hunt them out.
Attractions like the botanical gardens, museum and the gondola up to Mount Cavendish were unaffected and made for a lovely day.
In spite of this I decided that I’d move on to Nelson a day earlier than initially planned. I just didn’t feel that I could fill another day.
The journey to Nelson took most of a day, but the coach ran up the beautiful coastal road past Kaikoura to Blenmheim where I had the best ice cream of my life in the railway cafe.
On arrival in Nelson I was struck by the difference to Christchurch, with the compact city centre crowded with shopping areas.
The day after my arrival in Nelson started early, with a 4am wake up for the rugby world final. With an Australia v New Zealand final there was no way I was going to miss it.
I watched New Zealand win in a packed sports bar filled with screaming fans, quite the atmosphere in spite of the number of tired and overly drunk spectators.
After the rugby I spent a leisurely day wandering in Nelson, including a climb up to an overlooking hill which is billed as the central point in New Zealand.
Next up I’ll be heading up to Abel Tasman national park for a 3 day hike along the inland trail. I’ve also been convinced to follow that up almost immediately with a 6 day trip along a less used track in Kahurangi national park, more on that later.