NZ Road Trip Stage 1 - 19.10.10 - 24.10.10
With Adam's hangover and the torrential rain, the road trip didn't get off to a flying start but we did leave in the morning as planned nonetheless. We said our final goodbyes to Paul, Ayumi and Sam and set off towards Mount Cook. We took a few stops on the way including Cromwell where they grow a lot of fruit and have one hell of a cheesy American stylee enormous apple, pear and banana statue. However I think this hideous piece of art had healing properties as Adam suddenly felt on top of the world and his hangover was gone. We then stopped in Twizel and we will quickly skirt around this part when I say that I left the lights on and made the battery go flat again. The rain which had eased up started hurtling back down as we drove up to Mt Cook National Park. We wouldn't find out till the next day what we were missing on that drive. There was an information site where we learnt about Sir Edmund Hilary's training in Mt Cook and about the hundreds who have perished attempting to scale these impressive but deadly mountains. Adam made us chicken Risotto, which we ate outside, but suddenly the wind whipped up turning the air bitter cold and it was off to bed with us for the night.
The morning brought us a fresh layer of snow but also stunning skies as we headed off into the Hooker Valley on the most amazing walk I have ever done. It was simply out of this world, the pictures do not do the place justice, there was just beauty all around. As we headed out of the national park we saw the drive we had missed on the way in. WOW!
The drive then took us on to Lake Tekapo, the bluest lake in NZ where the church of the Good Shepherd sits on the side of the lake with a stunning mountain backdrop. Then onto Geraldine, a small drive through town but famous for good fudge, cheese and chocolate, oh and the worlds largest knitted jumper, oh how I laughed! Our final destination for day 2 was Akaroa, a town sitting on a peninsula with lovely beaches all around and a cute little French style town. When the French arrived here they started to put their stamp on the place thinking they might like to take over NZ, little did they know the English were way ahead of them already signing the Maori up in Waitangi. We parked up by a secluded bay called le Bons and had steak with mash potato and egg, yummy.
The following day we headed towards Christchurch and stopped in Lyttelton where I possibly saw our suitcases heading home on the freighter as there were loads of massive container vessels shipping out of the capital of the south island. It was then into the city where we felt right at home with the likes of The Body Shop and the river Avon running through the park. We went up the bell tower of the cathedral to enjoy the views and then ate at Wagamamas, a real taste of the Bull Ring! The gardens were stunning and punting on the Avon looked fun though Adam wasn't too keen. We hadn't showered since we left Queenstown so feeling pretty smelly we went swimming in a huge complex with flumes, a wave machine and rapids, almost as good as Dundee pool. The hugely anticipated shower was, I'm afraid to say, cold but at least we were clean. We slept by the beach again at New Brighton on the outskirts of the city and enjoyed chicken and bacon pasta for tea.
The next day we went to a beach south of the city where I finally let Adam get his kite out and he got dragged around the very windy beach. It was then up the gondola to see the views of the city. It was a bit hazy but we sat and ate our picnic up there and then headed down to Matt and Sarah's house where we would be staying for the next couple of days.
Amberley is a small town north of Christchurch, and Matt works as a shepherd on a farm with 3500 acres of land called Teviotdale Farm. The views from their lovely farm house were so beautiful, set on the top of a hill with rolling green countryside and a mountainous backdrop surrounded by sea - it couldn't get much better than this. We sat on their patio and soaked up the views with wine in hand. Matt put on a spread of home grown meat cooked on the barbie, it was perfect.
Sleeping in a proper bed was suddenly a novelty and you guys back home should stop taking it for granted. We slept very well but it was up early for a tour of the farm in our PJs. We stopped to pet a couple of little lambs and Matt told us all about the farm and his job, answering my millions of questions with much patience. In the 4 wheel drive van we went up to see views of the wine growing region of the Waipara valley and then to see where a huge rock had rolled down a cliff face due to one of the aftershocks of the earthquake. After we got dressed we headed to a brewery for a lovely lunch and then to the Pegasus Bay and Mud House vineyards where we bought a few bottles and again marvelled at the scenery. Matt and Sarah's friends welcomed us into their home at the vineyard where they work. They had a proper kiwi BBQ with roaring bonfire and mini motorbike for good measure. After another good nights sleep it was into the truck down to the beach via the bumpy "roads" on the farm and then we headed down the river bed and crossed through the Waipara river to get to the bottom of the cliff where we had stood the day before to see the size of the rock that had fallen. It was immense to think an aftershock could have caused that kind of disruption. In the town we had coffee and cake stopping at Matt's parents house to see their cute deer and then back to the farm for Adam to try putting the tent up for the first time just to check it worked, good job too it took over an hour. Sarah and I sat and watched taking the mick as they carried on their merry way but as we did the wall I was sitting on just wobbled and then when I tried to see if the wall was wobbly it was solid as anything, it appears I felt an aftershock. So I am sat writing my first blog as the boys are making dinner, Matt and Sarah have been wonderful hosts and are fantastic people, it has been a pleasure staying with them. This is the way life should be. xxx