28th September 2011
On February 22nd, 2011, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit barely 5km beneath the surface of Christchurch with devastating results. Today, almost 8mths later, the city center is still fenced off, monuments and historical buildings, churches remain rubble and repairs will be ongoing for many months to come, if not years. There continue to be after shocks every day.
It is therefore disturbing on many levels, when you discover in the morning that there were 2 aftershocks during the night. The only time you want to hear the word tremors is in relation to the movie. Luckily they were very mild ones, and most of us just assumed our bunk mate had rolled over… but its still nerve racking.
Christchurch to Kaikoura
After a good breakfast and sorting of bags, I headed outside with a group of other travelers to await the first of many Magic Buses. This would be the second trip I would do with Magic, the Northland 4 day tour being the first. Waiting with me were cousins from Sweden, friends from England and a few Germans, promising a good mix on the bus.
Nic with his trusty sidekick, Ross, was our driver and our chariot was Marg’ (Margery). Nic, with his baby face and near comical Kiwi accent (I mean that as a compliment), was full of enthusiasm and soon had us in stitches as he rattled off lines from the NZ movie “Boy”.
We stopped for lunch at the Antarctic Center and low and behold who do I see coming out, but none other than Andre. His flight had been delayed and so he had wandered over to check out the center. It was good to see him again.
The center is an interesting stop, there isn’t enough time to go through it but there are some fascinating exhibits and information boards scattered around outside and in the lobby. We then continued on our journey up the East coast.
Listening to a bus driver rattle off his typical meal plan is like spending a day at a fast food joint. 3 of us, Jen (Scotland, been with Nic’s bus for a while), Tamsin (UK, dietitian) and me, spent a majority of the trip to Kaikoura trying to convince him of the benefits of eating healthy and that chewing 7 vit C tabs a day isn’t an alternative. We eventually got him to eat an orange. Oh the small victories!
The weather was beyond spectacular, it was in fact, PERFECT! Clear skies, cool but not cold and warm sun. We pulled into Kaikoura and marveled at it’s beauty. Nic drove us through town and then to a fur seal colony. They are so close you could almost touch them, you would most likely lose your hand, but hey its up to you.
Our hostel, Dusky Lodge, came with spa tub, heated pool and a sauna. Pure heaven to a backpacker. The front desk was great as they didn’t overcrowd the rooms, and Tamsin and I ended up having a 4 bed dorm to ourselves.
After a store run, dinner and a dip in the hot tub and the pool and the sauna, we all got ready to go to the pub quiz in town. Nic, Jen, an Irish guy and I went to quiz night, all very excited for the game. It was due to start at 8.30pm but the rugby delayed it till 9pm, it started at 9.30pm. We had 7rounds with 1 of them being a joker worth double points. We chose the Cartoon round. All was going well until we got to the cartoon round. The last question was replaced by an obscure sports question because they thought no one would know who the actual voice was of “Chef” in South Park. Turns out we knew that answer but not the sports question. Now, I tend to take my quiz nights a bit too seriously and got a little annoyed that we lost points when we knew the answer to the original, Isaac Hayes. Add to that the long delays and that it was almost 11pm and we weren’t even half way… the lot of us got up and left. Oh well it was fun while it lasted.
After such a stunning arrival day I was sincerely looking forward to some walking in the morning and exploring along the coastline. The weather, however, had other ideas. It was cold and grey and miserable. I walked into town once to look for coffee and explore. I also stopped into a pharmacist to see about getting my 3rd bottle of cough mixture. The pharmacist recommended against it, saying I was wasting my money and just to let myself cough till I was over it. As long as there was no fever or blood I was fine.
Back at the hostel I worked on my blog, uploaded photos and read my book. Going into town once more to mail a postcard. In the evening a bunch of us watched “Eat, Pray, Love”.
In the morning as we drove out of this tiny town on a stunning wild coastline with gorgeous snowcapped peaks in the distance the weather was clear and sunny and promising to be just like the day we drove in. Go Figure!
Next stop Nelson!