Hi From New Zeleand,
We landed at 5am in Christchurch. Customs was surprisingly easy compared to the last time we visited. So by 6am we were out in Arrivals, which was pretty small and covered with other backpackers trying to get a couple of hours kip. I went and sourced us some breakfast while Claire attempted to pretend it wasn't time to get up.
At 8am we were collected by the hire people and taken to our Van. It is quite compact but the lady at the hire company was very nice and even told the workshop guy to bring another van out as the first one was a bit battered.
By 10am we were set and ready to go. We drove into the centre of Christchurch and started viewing the destruction. The centre of the city is still barried off and some of the buildings are leaning at very precarious angles.
It's quite shocking and looks like something out of the movies. It was very cold (compare to Asia and Aus) so we attempted to find a shop that sold jumpers. It took over an hour and we had no joy. We also seemed to not be able to get the laptop on line. So one the whole it was a really depressing start to our trip.
After two hours of seeing abandoned buildings with huge cracks in them or bits missing we went to the Canterbury Museum. It covers the history of the area, antartica, a few mummies and even a little exhibition on fashion. It was a nice distraction but by now we were really feeling the lack of sleep.
So we drove the bus to the coast, to a place called Sumner, about 5 miles outside the centre of the town. All the way along the coast road there were huge shipping crates in front of the cliff face that had fallen and half a house still balanced at the top.
We arrive and its pretty small but there is a nice beach prominade and a set of loos so we park up and go for a wander. We find a charity shop and claire buys a jumper. Later we cooked dinner from the back of the van and we settle down for our first night by the side of the road.
The next day we are awoken by the kids who have arrived for surf school. Their meeting point is right next to the van and there is alot of chatter. So we pack up and visit the other charity shop where I buy a jumper for 50p. Warm and coffee filled we leave and drive around the coast.
There are some amazing views and so few people as we bimble along in our little bus. We arrived in the tourist town of Afdhdkhgkdj ( can't remember the spelling) where you can supposedly see seals and penguins - no seals or penguins. But as its my birthday Claire does by me cake and so we sit and watch the sea. Its a lovely area and there are bus loads of OAPs arriving all the time, its the busiest place we've been since arriving in NZ.
We leave about three and drive to a campsite down the road in Waikia (famous for its giant plastic Salmon - we have the photos). We camp there the night and have a well deserved shower. While there we look through a book and notice that one of the lord of the rings set is about 50 miles away.
The next day we get up and head off for Edoras (Home of the Riders of Rohan). The road goes stright to it... However the last 10 miles are gravel road - so we throw the van over a gravelly nightmare for about an hour. Finally we arrive and its grey and there is gale force winds, but we did make it!
Then begins the long haul back to the main road where we stop at mount summers for a tea in a little country pub before doing the last 20 miles to Geraldine. Home of the worlds largest jersey (actually in the guiness book of records).
We spent the night with Gillian and Michael - childhood friends of Claire's Mum. It was the first time I have had sunday lunch in 9 months!
Anyway today we drive to Mount Cook.