Camping in Christchurch
Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
20Trip End Feb 21, 2008
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We sailed through NZ immigration yesterday in about 5 minutes--a triumph. The customs officer looked at one of Jim's boots and one of mine, and on hearing Jim had vaccuumed the tents before we left, waved us through. Danny Bernstein (author of Hiking the Carolina Mountains, which we publish at Milestone Press) would be proud--she advised us on boot scrubbing. Apex rental car picked us up at the airport and after collecting our car, we found our way to the motor camp. Driving on the left side of the road is always a scary proposition at first.
We had reservations at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, to see Ko Tane ("the Maori Experience," an introduction to traditional Maori culture and NZ food), which we kept, even though we had planned on being more rested. Although on the pricey side for us, it was worth it. Willowbank has been in the news recently because of its efforts to stem the decline of the kiwi, the national bird. They take eggs from the wild, incubate and hatch them at the reserve, place weeks-old chicks on a preditor-free island, and then move the birds back to thier place of origin once they reach adulthood. Currently something like only 1 in 5 kiwi bird chicks survive in the wild; there are way too many predators--all non-native.
We crawled into our tents and were instantly asleep; this morning we feel pretty rested. Today we are off to Nelson, to stock up on provisions for the first tramp, Abel Tazmen--one of New Zealand's 9 Great Walks. We begin that on Sunday. Here in NZ, it's now Friday. We are 18 hours behind US Eastern time.