The Anti-Christ(church)

Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2010

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Well we survived the flooding, just! By the time Steve got up the tent was in an actual pool of water and the rain still coming down by the bucket load so everything we had was soaked through and, even more frustratingly for me, haphazardly thrown into the car in a very disorganized fashion so I had no hope of finding anything.  Once we began driving we considered a change of plans as the next stage of our journey was supposed to be the drive through Arthur's Pass a beautiful mountain route however in the current weather conditions we would miss out on the best that the views had to offer.  The problem being that there are so few roads in New Zealand it was really a case of going forward or backward so we had to plough on regardless but decided to stop at Arthur’s Pass village half way through the Pass for the night in hopes that we would escape the rain for the following day.

We did manage to get away from the rain, thankfully, but of course as we were driving into the mountains our overnight stop was in the freezing cold mountain valley.  I had to immediately put on eight layers before I could face playing around with the wet tent, at least we had a break from the rain for a bit, although I was sure if it had a chance it would have just snowed instead.  We decided to warm up with a walk to a waterfall and I really wish I had thought about taking some of my layers off before the uphill section began as I was completely baking en route. Nevertheless when we did get back to the tent I had to put even more on so whilst I could actually feel my limbs I couldn’t bend them at all.  That evening we focused our efforts on learning new card games, playing the same one we knew from our year in Canada again and again seemed like a recipe for insanity, and somewhere along the way we managed to forget about the freezing cold for long enough to be able to get to sleep.

Sadly the next morning it was overcast and cold still so we cancelled our plans for a day hike and instead planned to spend the night on the Banks Peninsula just south of Christchurch.  We didn’t really plan for much in-between but our drive out of Arthur’s Pass was beautiful as we watched the clouds lifting and revealing the hidden mountain peaks and it actually became warm enough to consider venturing on a few walks to some beautiful limestone rocks on Castle Hill.  This area was used in Lord of the Rings and the Narnia films quite a lot and you can see why.  It’s a very otherworldly place to be and the fantastic part about it is that it’s unrestricted, you can climb and play on all the rocks so we had a good time entertaining ourselves there while kids of all ages ran around acting out scenes from the movies and generally having a great time.  We also had a poke around at the entrance to a caving site where an underground waterfall leads into a network of caves for about an hours walk.  Sadly we were unqualified, unequipped and unlikely to survive such an excursion so we thought just having a play around the entrance would be the best option on this occasion.

After a long drive from Castle Hill we made it to Banks Peninsula which is absolutely beautiful.  It was created after a volcanic eruption and you can see the shape of the old volcano and the pretty town of Akaroa in the dip where it’s crater would have been.  We had a lovely drive along the top edge of the peninsula and made our way to one of the outer beaches where our campsite was for the night.  We had a very memorable meal that night as we actually splashed out on a pack of sausages.  This is worth mentioning as we had been traveling for over a week and I pointed out to Steve he’s been a vegetarian all that time – which did not go down well!  As he was so upset about the matter we agreed splurging the budget on some bangers and mash wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  We greedily gobbled it all down and had the luxury of an indoor kitchen to cook in so felt like kings!  We decided to go for a nighttime stroll on the beach with our flasks of tea but not using any light to find our way, more tea got spilt than drank but we had fun and got to have the whole beach to ourselves.

Clearly not content with having a beautiful beach to just the two of us, I decided to get up at 6am to watch the sunrise while Steve slept in.  I’ve seen a few sunrises on my own now and they never fail to impress me, I simply don’t understand why the world doesn’t get up to watch the sunrise, have a nap through the day and get up for sunset again, that would be my perfect scenario.  We made our plans over breakfast for our hikes for that day and as we were making our way to the car the heavens opened again.  I have no idea where the clouds even came from this time.  Unfortunately they were here to stay though and although we popped into Akaroa for a quick visit we couldn’t attempt any of the hikes once again.  Miserably we decided to cut our loses and head into Christchurch where we could huddle up in the warm and dry somewhere. 

Now I should interrupt this entry to warn you that I fully intend to give you an accurate portrayal of our traveling experiences.  I believe if you are committed enough to sit and read through my constant ramblings then you deserve to hear the truth about travel and not a glorified portrayal.  Should you ever wish to do the same I would not like to have you knocking on my door saying that I told you everything would easy and everyday would be fun.  I am naturally a pessimist but today was a day when I found myself thinking optimistically for a change as even I didn’t believe things could be much worse.

Please bear in mind that we have been living in Queenstown for 8 months, a very small place with very few roads and our driving around New Zealand to date has not been to places with more than one main street.  Therefore once we hit Chirstchurch and saw a traffic light and more than 5 cars on the same stretch of road for the first time we hardly knew what to do!  We drove around endlessly trying to find a hostel for the night, when we did eventually find them they were full and we were battling with a map that had the one way roads labeled in the opposite directions so after three hours of hell we decided to pull up at the gardens and go and have a picnic to recover.  However as we were walking away from the car we saw a man with a chain of different car keys around his neck walk up to it and look in all of our windows.  As all our worldly possessions were in the car we couldn’t risk leaving it in the vicinity of this dodgy gentleman and so we had our picnic next to the car park before driving off and doing yet more circuits around Chirstchurch (now deemed the Anti-Christ) before deciding to head out of town altogether.  It was already dark and our next scheduled stop was nearly another two hours away but at the time anything was going to be better than staying in that godforsaken, built-up maze of roads!  On our way out we did make use of the one good thing about Chirstchurch, which was having shops again.  We went into an actual shopping mall, it was less than half the size of any I have ever seen in England but I hadn’t been in one for about 10 months so I felt like one of the golden ticket winners in Charlie and the Chocolate factory having entered the chocolate room for the first time.  Instead we made our way to a supermarket and spent our money wisely on two apple pies (yes a whole one each!) to help us get over the trauma. 

Oh and did I mention it was STILL raining!?!

Finally in the dark and rain we made it to Hamner Springs where every hostel was fully booked.  It was nativity like! We owe our sanity to Edwin the manager of Hamner Backpackers who, despite being full, let us put up our tent in his garden so we could then come inside and dry off and use the hostel facilities.  Of course the tent was soaked all over again and we failed to co-ordinate well in getting anything inside it without that getting soaked as well.  On the plus side though the hostel itself was one of the best we have ever stayed in and Edwin baked us a chocolate cake with ice cream which made us feel better about everything.  I was just starting to think about sticking with my optimistic attitude when I went to serve up the broccoli we were having for dinner and found a, now dead, caterpillar floating in the water.  Some might say it was better to have seen it before it ended up on my plate, but then those people wouldn’t have been aware that I had that pleasure to come too.  Upsetting for me, but more so for the caterpillars!

Hope that hasn’t depressed you too much, I promise that next time there will be more uplifting tales to tell (I know this to be true either because I can see into the future or because I’m so behind on writing the blogs – you decide)

Stay dry and warm everyone,

Lots of Love,

Amy and meat-Starved Steve
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