jen yu: new zealand 2004 - day 1

new zealand 2004 - day 1

back to nz 2004
[ day 2 ]
christchurch, arthur's pass, hokitika
november 25, 2004
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New Zealand was so awesome the first time, that we couldn't resist going back to explore the South Island. We managed super cheap promotional fares on Air New Zealand for their new direct flights from LAX to Christchurch. Originally, we were planning to go out in January 2005, but we thought early season might be better to avoid crowds and bugs, which was true. We also hit cold spells that smacked of winter rather than the ushering in of summer. It was worth it.

The flight out to Christchurch was rather miserable. That was entirely my own fault - I bought and consumed one hot chocolate from Starbucks and endured 12 hours of stomach cramps over the Pacific Ocean thanks to hot milk and lactose intolerance. My mistake (but it was cold in the terminal!). Landing in Christchurch, the skies were clear and blue. We could look out of the international terminal and see snow-capped mountains in the distance. By the time we got our cash, rental car (backpacker special again, but this time a little fancier than last), and groceries, the clouds were closing in on the peaks. We drove west toward Arthur's Pass National Park through lovely countryside and rolling foothills. Skies darkened and soon we had the wiper blades going as we approached the visitor's center in the park. Our wipers had the ability to clear away all water on the first pass, then on the return pass, made a horrific screeching sound and messed up the windshield with water smears. It was sleeting in Arthur's Pass and the Avalanche Peak trail was closed due to avalanche danger (a recurring theme during our trip).

We opted for a couple of short hikes to see Devil's Punchbowl Falls and also Bridal Veil Falls. I wanted to see how this Bridal Veil compared with Yosemite's famed falls of the same name. Clouds lingered low in the sky and I wondered how much of our trip would be in rain and under (or in) clouds. Two things that struck me immediately were 1) the amount of moss and lichen growing everywhere and 2) the beech forests. Both were abundant, both were absolutely mesmerizing and beautiful. After the hikes we filled up on petrol (United States citizens should be ashamed for complaining about gas prices) and met some cheeky keas, New Zeland's infamous alpine parrots. There was a test done with a kea, chimp, and octopus where each was given the same puzzle to solve. I think the kea took something like 21 seconds, the chimp was a minute or more, and the octopus was 8 minutes. Keas are inquisitive, intelligent and very naughty birds. We drove down to the west coast into the town of Hokitika. On the road, I realized that I was cold, and that I had a cold. Deja vu.

In Hokitika, we found our motel and checked in. From there, we were a stone's throw from the Tasman Sea where we took a picture of Flat Stanley for my nephew, Ben (his school project). How many Flat Stanleys get to travel to New Zealand from Atlanta, eh?!? It was overcast and drizzling, but we walked along the beach discussing our dining options. There really wasn't an option though, because I knew exactly what I wanted for dinner. When the rain really started coming down, we went into town for groceries and some inaugural fish and chips takeaway. With our parcel of hot fried goodness wrapped in newspaper, we returned to the motel to see a large rainbow west of town. The rain had let up a little. While dark clouds formed a ceiling overhead, the sun popped through a small hole for a good 15 minutes. We were pretty tired and fell asleep in no time.

back to nz 2004
[ day 2 ]