Before going out to see the penguins, I posted a note to the hostel’s bulletin board (physical cork board, not online 🙂 asking if anyone wanted a ride up to Christchurch in the morning. It’s a 4 hour drive from Oamaru to Christchurch and I was hoping for some company.
A girl texted me that she was interested, it turns out she was in the bed next to mine too. In the morning I got up to go for a run and she came with me. Then we got ready and hit the road at about 9:30. It was a nice drive to Timaru, just chatting along the way and listening to music. When we got to Timaru, she decided she really wanted to go to Mt. Cook, so I let her off at the turnoff to hitch.
Back on the road – this time alone – I drove straight through to Akaroa. The drive was pretty monotonous with just one nice stop at the Moreaki Boulders.
I got to Akaroa at about 4:00 and stayed in the hostel Bon Accord. Nice, very clean place run by Germans. I dropped my stuff and went to the i-site to book a boat trip, then made a bee-line to the movie theater to see what was playing. I had just enough time to eat dinner and get to the movie “Man on Wire”, the documentary about the guy who illegally walked a tightrope across the Twin Towers in the 70s. It was pretty good, but the guy the movie was about wasn’t very likeable.
After the movie I went back to the hostel and talked with some of my roommates until pretty late. In the morning, I went for a run then got on the boat. The boat was captained and owned by an American guy from NY. Very funny and nice commentary about the wildlife and Akaroa’s history. We saw TONS of little Hector’s dolphins! They’re the world’s smallest dolphins and they are SO FAST – it’s hard to take photos of them, even with my SLR camera. The wind was so intense – up to 35 knots! I was wearing Jacob’s Boston marathon hat and it blew into the ocean :(. Sorry, Jacob!
On the boat, I made friends with a British woman who lives in Holland named Jill. She’s on vacation alone, her partner is back in Holland. After sailing, we decided to have lunch together near the wharf before I started my drive to Christchurch. I had an entire plate of Green Lipped Mussels – YUM!
I left to drive to Christchurch and it has got to be the most beautiful drive in all of NZ (way better than the coastal drive on the west coast, which everyone says is amazing). You climb, climb, climb, through farmland and then see bay after bay of aquamarine waters and pristine beaches. Then you descend to the bays and see the light reflecting off the water and the boats in the harbors. Then you climb again and descend again. It’s so unique to have farmland right next to cliffs that drop off into perfect blue waters.
When I finally got to the flat farmland, it was so warm and bright that I started to get sleepy, so I pulled over at a cafe and took a nap in the car. I fell asleep in seconds and had the most vivid dreams! I finished the drive to Christchurch and checked in at the Frauenreisehaus, an all-women’s hostel. The women’s hostel was awesome! It’s run by 2, um, solid German women. It was perfectly clean and very orderly with a huge DVD library alphabetized with a check-out system, a cat, and 2 guinea pigs. I had the girliest night of my life there; watching the Sex and the City movie, eating chocolate cake and drinking tea in my pajamas with a bunch of other girls. Seriously.
The next morning I did some errands and then flew to Auckland. I missed my original flight (just running late) so I bought a ticket at the airport. Yes, that’s right, a non-terrorist bought a ticket at the airport. 10 minutes before boarding even. That would have put me on some scary watch-list or something in the US. Sigh.
Anyway, Margot picked me up at the airport and we drove to her cottage in Coromandel. It reminds me a lot of the place we stayed in Grass Valley, it’s a cozy place with big doors that open onto a forest of ferns and trees, there’s a hot tub and there are 3 beds, a big one and 2 bunks in a separate room. The bed may actually be the most comfortable bed in all of New Zealand… AND there’s wireless that’s fast and I don’t have to share with a bunch of backpackers 🙂
Blair and Suzanne show up tomorrow!!