Blog Day 224 Thurs 15th December 2011
So today we wave goodbye to Christchurch and the lovely Irish girls! We can't thank them enough for having us this past week! True Irish Gems!
A cab picks us up from the girls place and drops us to the Antarctic Center, which is where the bus picks up. On the drive there our cab driver fills us in on where he was during the earthquakes, he also gives us little snippets of info about different areas as we drive through them. One thing we have learnt since touching down in New Zealand is that on the whole people are really friendly and always up for a chat. As we pay the cab driver his $45 for the ride, we realize that we made the right choice getting the airport shuttle bus from the airport when we landed. The Antarctic Center is right next to the airport and the cab fare is almost double what the shuttle bus price was!
The bus turns up 45 minutes later in all its bright orange glory! Christchurch must be the end of the road for a lot of the passengers as far more got off than got on. Nana (our driver) takes our names and we jump on with a ton of other French and German travellers, Happy Days.
Over the coming weeks in New Zealand we shall be flying through places in order to cover so much of the country. Some places we are in for 2 nights whilst others provide only a bed for the night. One thing we are going to have to get used to is paying for our accommodation. In Australia we had the camper, which meant we could pull up in free rest stops and go to sleep, also we had the occasional Nomads room to stay in. Here we still have the Nomads setup but with no camper to sleep in we are going to have to fork out some money for a bed! Dan did try to get some freebies off YHA (another hostel chain in New Zealand) but the best he could get was 20% off. Still a deal that's not to be sniffed at. With the money that we saved whist staying at the girls place and the free nights in Nomads, we are able to stay in private rooms as opposed to dorm rooms. A blessing really as both of us have learnt that we cant handle trying to get to sleep, whilst some garlic munching, baguette swinging Frenchie lays well away in the land of nod snoring his face off!
Our first stop off is in a place called Kaikoura, a small whaling town north of Christchurch. The drive up here is pretty scenic especially as we hug the coastline. The town still maintains it's whaling base - although now people now come to 'see' the whales rather than hack them up. We are staying in Adelphi Backpackers tonight. The building is a lovely old timber structure, that kind of reminds us of an old English style B&B. Everything in it creeks, the doors, the floors, even the little old bird behind the front desk that checked us in looked like she needed oiling. We throw our bags in the room and head on out to check out Kaikoura. The town is pretty small really and it doesn't take long to cover the main shops. The real highlight it has to be said is the view. We make our way down to the black pebble beach and are taken back by the rugged beauty of the mountains and the sea. The sky is very grey and there is rain in the air, the sea is creamy blue color and there is an eerie mist that blurs the shoreline. Words really don't do it justice so it's a good job we took some photos.
After a little photo session on the beach we head up to the memorial gardens. The thing to see here are the archways that are formed from whale jawbones…………..delightful.
Speaking of jawbones, on the way to Kaikoura, Nana, our driver, told us of the Maori creation story of New Zealand.
Apparently the North Island of New Zealand is actually a fish. Maui, a legendary Maori bloke, hooked the enormous fish while on a fishing trip with his brothers. It wasn't long after he cast his line with his special fishhook attached (made from the jaw bone of his grandmother) that he felt the tug of what was no ordinary fish. It took all the strength of Maui and his brothers to pull up what was to become known as Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui). Once the fish was pulled up Maui realized that this ordinary feat and that he should go and make peace with the gods. While he was doing this, his brothers started trying to chop up the fish (cheeky w***s). The writhing of the fish before Maui made peace with the gods left the mountains and hills that can be seen in the North Island. Maui's waka (pronounced woka Maori for canoe) was frozen in place. This became the South Island. Also known as Te Waka a Maui (you've guessed it the canoe of Maui). The mountains of the South Island are the piles of fish previously caught. Stewart Island, which lies at the very bottom of New Zealand, is known as Te Punga a Maui (Maui's anchor).
All the above is expertly copied from the Stray guide book.
Back in Kaikoura we have a free beer and cup of soup at the hostel before heading up to the room. As we have pretty much covered most of Kaikoura we settle down for the night to watch Captain America on the laptop.