Tag: new zealand roadtrip

Expedition South Island: Day 6 and Beyond: Driving, driving, driving… and resting in Christchurch

One last view of Oban (c) ABR 2017

The morning after my day sliding down stairs and worrying about a broken hand, I was up before the sun and out on the dock for my boat ride back to the mainland. After an hour on the cold boat, and a quick walk through some very frigid wind, I was ready to climb back into my little car.

However, after about three hours in my little car, that feeling had died off a bit. See, I had about 8 hours of driving to do to get from Bluff to Christchurch, and those hours feel so much longer here than in the US. Simply put (and the signs here will remind you of this fact) the roads in New Zealand are different. They are curvy and they are narrow, with only one lane on either side. That means that when you are tired from driving for 3+ hours, you might become more tired when a giant semi-truck turns out in front of you and you are suddenly trapped going half as fast as you’d like.

Christchirch Botanical Gardens (c) ABR 2017

Needless to say, I was exhausted when I finally pulled into my Christchurch hotel, and ready for some rest after a surprisingly stressful week (wonderful as well).

The day after I arrived in town, I moved a little closer to the city central, and took a walk down to the botanical gardens. Unfortunately, I chose a cold, windy day to walk down there, so I ended up retreating into the Conservatory. I fell in love with the rows and rows of potted plants, and the beauty of the greenhouse’s antique architecture. I even managed to find a saguaro in there, which was a nice little reminder of home.

Found me a bit of home! Saguaro! (c) ABR 2017

Getting out of the wind for a bit made me decide that walking around downtown wasn’t an option at the moment, so once I peeled out of the conservatory, I walked right over to the Canterbury museum. This particular Christchurch attraction is free, so even though I am not a huge fan of museums, I knew I didn’t have anything to lose. Turns out, the Canterbury museum is just my kind of institution, i.e. they are very good at immersive exhibits. I especially loved the exhibit on the Paua Shell House (which I had no idea what that was when I walked up), where they showed a movie about the history and story of the house that became an attraction in the southern town of Bluff when the residents started pinning polished Paua shells to their walls. It was quite an enchanting little story, and after watching the movie, it was really delightful to go into the next room and get to experience a recreation of that Kiwi landmark.

Paua Shell House recreation at the Canterbury Museum (c) ABR 2017

When the weather was better, I did get the chance to look around the Botanical gardens more. This is a great place to walk and explore; there are beautiful ponds, different groupings of plants, and even some species from my home desert.

Cool art in downtown Christchurch (c) ABR 2017

As for seeing downtown Christchurch, I did walk around a bit, but there wasn’t much to see on your own. I would definitely suggest the gardens and the museum for anyone looking for some cheap things to see, but if you want to get the most out of visiting the city itself, definitely grab a tour.

What did I see before Christchurch? The beautiful (if slippery) Steward Is!

Expedition South Island: Day 3: Mt. Aspiring Inspires

Total Distance Driven: 333km
Total Time Driving: 4hrs

Miles Hiked: 3.2 miles
Time Hiking: 1hr

Today was an interesting day, a mix of good and bad. When I was leaving Twizel, the tiny town where I stayed the night, I spotted two girls on the side of the road, smiling and waving, and looking desperate for a ride. Judging them by their clothes, and knowing I had room, I decided to pick them up. Not something I ever imagined doing, but it turned out fine enough. They were exchange students form the States and their car had broken down while they were exploring Mt Cook. I got them as far as a junction near Wanaka, and then they were on their way.

Thunder Creek Falls (c) ABR 2017

I followed their advice and bought a meat pie from a little bakery called Doughbin. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking the flavor I got (my bad…).

After that, it was an hour drive up to Thunder Creek Falls, the furthest point into Mt. Aspiring NP that I was planning on going before turning around. The journey into this particular NP, which I had no knowledge about and thusly, no expectations, was jaw dropping. The southern alps here have an almost reddish hew, and there’s not nearly as much snow on their peaks as Mt. Cook and the mountains surrounding it. This means that the dark skin of the rock shows through above the bush line; the mountains are colorful and hard to look away from.

(c) ABR 2017

To make the park even more awesome, Haast pass, where you drive through on this side of the NP, is at the base of a gorge that is covered in rainforest! It is one of the coolest things to be able to climb through such a densely green forest, and look out at alpine mountains.

My only regret is that I didn’t have time for some proper tramping up into the mountains, but I’m sure that would have killed me at this point. A steep hike up to Haast viewpoint left me feeling sick and exhausted. I don’t know if it was the altitude, the fact that my body is busy with female business, or if I am still sick from the other day. In any case, it left me wondering what the rest of my trip is going to look like. Part of me really wants to go to the Chatham Islands, because I think this is my chance (and I’ve already spent a good amount of money on it), but there are so many things about the way I planned that leg of my journey that are stressing me out. Feeling sick makes me worried about attempting it. I have no idea what to do.

(c) ABR 2017

What’s the best outdoor stop for a South Island, NZ Roadtrip? Mt Cook!
Fiordlands National Park was my favorite stop! See what hiking in here was like.

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