Crazy horses wa wah
Christchurch, lyttleton, Sheffield, new Brighton
So 2.5 weeks in...I've accidentally fell in love with one very unexpected country (bit like my boys really) and now I'm leaving part eine of the next.
After a pissed off plane journey; the Chinese attempting to teach me to use chopsticks (they blatantly haven't seen how I hold a pen) - I was the token English in wok-air!! Celeb spotting on the plane: yes moari members of the kiwi rugby team I would like to sit on your lap and a 27hr stint of absolutely no sleep- damn time zones. I wasn't in the best mood when I landed....
Especially when I had told Dirty foreigner to collect me at 6am after landing at 5am- oh yes I thought plenty of time to get through customs and luggage etc- it actually took 11 minutes- plane to arrivals- surely a record!! I should have been pleased but that was a further 50 mins waiting in an airport; which are quickly becoming despised.
After a brief nap in a bed (double- spread eagled - yeah I did) we took a trip up through the mountains and valleys that lie between Merrivale and lyttleton (towns- note the shire names). Phenomenal views; purely scenic; very deserted; a place where you just never wanted to leave and looking at it consistently for a full day would not be enough...
Dirty foreigner was the tour guide massive: not only one of the cleverest, most travel led person I have ever met (seriously politics, economics, geothermal activity, beer this dude knows his stuff) also having lived in CC for 2 years He still adores the place.
Sat overlooking Lepers island, (named so because it's where the social engineering loving Kiwis sent people with leprosy) I actually thought ... Mmm there could be worse places to be exiled. After receiving some bad news this is exactly the place you want to be very cathartic.
Dirty foreigner knowing my penchant for alcohol felt it would be rude not to take me to the most iconic (1 of 3) bars in Lyttleton: WUNDERBAR.
If you go anywhere near New Zealand...in fact make a trip from England- to visit this bar.
Makes rocky horror look like Disney. Dolls faces sliced in half form the lampshades, stockinged legs of mannequins fan the bar, crazy nippled cats adorn the walls.
For one of eclectic tastes and bizarre imagination it's rather amazing!
Being sociable northerners, conversations were struck with Man of Bar who informed us a travelling peep show would be entertaining lyttleton folk this eve...random and obscure... Right up our street.
Dirty Foreigner then attempted to educate me on the destruction of CC; it's quite scary to see how easily whole communities can literally be flattened, areas the size of handsworth, Woodhouse and intake combined; flattened, boarded up and derelict. Historic, listed architecture held up by shipping containers. Very sad.
After a quick jaunt to the mall in an attempt to connect me with the wider world... 'Kiwi time' became my new depisation...
you want your phone unlocked? Ten days! (Pretty sure it's entering a code mate)
want a taxi? 3hrs wait (sure I'll just loiter)
that pint you pulling then paused - yeah I'll just sit here watching it get warm....anyways
Following a giant burger at beer and burgers (novel name which is excused for a burger larger than my head ) we headed back to Wunderbar.
If you've seen the film The Proposel (watch it just for Ry Ry) Lyttleton mirrors the town; everyone knows each other, the barman is the stripper and your hairdresser is your GP etc (except in a lyttleton the icecream man is also the tattooist)
The female population of this town adore a tattoo, troops of female residents sat stoically in their vintage dresses, tattooed sleeve on show whilst there uncomfortable husbands leered at the international burlesque ladies, sword eating, block smashing, nail laying, acts on stage. It was brilliant banter, titalation and pure cheeky fun. The pretty things peep show look out for it!
I'm pretty determined this is my future career- absolutely no conflict of interest to SW at all; so much so
I donated my remaining Aussie dollars to fund the cause of future peep show dreams....
After an early night and a late lie in (New Zealand is a further 3hrs in front waay skewed) Saturday was the climax of cup and show week. Basically 'a Melbourne Cup with relevance wider than one city':a week of horse inspired gambling, lots of reasonably priced and politely queued for alcohol.
Dressing up in our finest (limited and under strict instructions from bro ho to move away from the yellow dress) we headed 4 hours late (kiwi time) to the race track.
Cup and show week top ten reasons to attend:
1: Bogens (no more rednecks) litter the street paralytic from 10am leaving the odd shoe and smashed chambrayne bottle in their wake.
2: New Zealand don't do 'celebrity' international rugby star 'hello'; soap star 'hold my drink'; prime minister 'that's my chair'
3: kiwis form orderly queues for drinks, single file, in a beer tent, and leave exit space...bye bye four pint spillages hello full cups.
4: no matter how limited your clothing brits are still fashionishtas (they've just discovered florecents circa S/S 2013)
5: They sing the national anthem.... In Maori
6: I won... Against all odds...on a horse called 'she's insatiable' gut feeling guys!
7: they like to drink ... A lot ... But advocate sensibility to reach desired drunkenness... No more downing and spewing yay!!
8: hot dogs are battered sausages on sticks (look amazing taste revolting- think donut batter on princes finest)
9: it's a cockfest (no need for meat market pants bro ho) but alas predominantly Irish (Ginge K's on next plane)
10: if you have an epic loss on day 1 there's 6 more days of friverlous gambling to be had...yay
11: sneaky one but I saw the male Maori equivalent of me... Seriously made my day!
After a day of (steady) drinking the plan was to mingle with the masses in CC town centre. However as always pre drinks (post races) were necessary at some randoms home....After tresspassing, gatecrashing is becoming my new forte!
Rocking up empty handed, myself
dirty foreigner and his indo-kiwi brother rocked up to drink beers (found) annihilate crisps (provided) scrounge Chip butties (bought) and partake in (acceptable) racist banter.Fabulously relaxed.
3hrs later (kiwi time) Apparently the taxis decided they didn't want the fare to town- Pulled up, looked at us, drove off, right ok then...
So tipsely we trotted off to a secondary establishment of gatecrashing. A carnage of Jd (spoon of coke) and Crimes against humanity ensued (new favourite game ever- Xmas present please- can be shipped or passed via fods :) )
To complete my induction to CC; noting my misery at missing bonfire night; (because the general Aussie public are too stupid and incompetent to be allowed to buy fireworks) my new kiwi comrades released a stash perfecting the evening.(firework spack)
Sunday dawned with an early start, minimum hangover (this steady drinking is a winner) to head over to Sheffield... The South Yorkshire tourists dream destination!
A stunning no mans of nothing... Except a sign and a pie shop.
What more do Yorkshire folk need??
The epic backdrop of
snow covered mountains, vintage railway and pine forests only added to the pie and sign.
Keeping with the Sheffield theme, Sunday was centred around food
a stroll to the beach (houses hanging off cliffs, half houses and 'art deco' shipping containers.) A
play in the rock pools and cave exploration followed by snazzy lunch at CC new bistro bar.
After a power hour (not working is very tiring) I joined the home boys (one from Kiverton- cannot go anywhere) for a steak on a stone tea.... Traditional kiwi dish in which meat (venison, steak, lamb) is provided on a hot stone (get out) for self desired cooking... Vintage racalet.
After a weekend of men, and god have I missed living with men,
Monday was my dedicated day to full on Christchurchian tourist.
Christchurch the tale of three cities:
1: what it once was
English in heritage CC succumbs to many British stereotypes; punting on the Avon, Victorian tram ride around the centre (which of course I rode), bontanical gardens and parks (your getting bored reading about them think how I feel walking them) cathedrals, schools and sky gondalas (ok maybe not the latter)
2: what it is now
Unfortunately all of the above are centred around mass destruction (including the cathedral) shipping containers and roadworks. Which shows limited development in 3.5 years (kiwi time) I think the 10year restoration plan was a tad optimistic (because I know so much about city development after my detailed talks with dirty foreigner)
3: what it will become
However Kudos where due: the bars, structures and 'accept and move on' post quake buildings that have emerged are nice, real nice, each bar individualised, very modern, chic if you will. The re:start mall is a prime example of the best of a bad situation with beautifully graffitied shipping containers creating the city centre shopping mall. Gap fillers (which have sprung all over the centre in an attempt to prevent mass carpark takeover) are inventive, to
Some extent original and mildly entertaining for a wanderer with time to kill. Playing on the sound garden? Giant chess? Sitting on a 20m tug settee... Yeah I can do that.
A cardboard cathedral that's not made of cardboard (an Aussie lie across the pond) and an eerie (unnerving) shrine of 185 painted empty white chairs (just lummoxed in the middle of a square- not your typical shrine ) to honour those who lost their lives; finished my CC tour for the day.
Has it charmed me: No
Do I want to live here: No
Would I recommend a visit: definitely
Would I come again: in 20 years when hopefully kiwi time catches up with the rest of the world... Well after the 28th November when I pass back through.
Next stop on the grand adventure is the Stray bus... Actual travellers, moving about, looking at things... Holidays over :) no planes pure coach... Eeeekkkk