The wind carried us to Christchurch
We decided it was time to leave Nelson and make our way to Queenstown. We had about 8 hours or more of travel time ahead of us so we needed to get going.
Jay had talked to us about doing a hike that was behind his house and ends at the geographical center of New Zealand. Alicia and I hadn't done it yet and I figured it just wasn't going to happen. As we were packing up our stuff Jay asked if we wanted to do the hike with him. We wanted to get on the road as early as we could but didn't want to turn him down. He had, after all been a wonderful host!
The hike took us maybe 2 hours or a lil less. It started at a public park where 2 cricket teams were in the middle of a game.
Cricket is similar to baseball in America but the bat is different and the runs are different. That's all I know about the sport.
We walked past the teams and started hiking up into the trees. There was a well taken care of path to follow that winded up the hill side. The end of the trail had a spectacularly rad view of Nelson, the country side where the vineyards were as well as the ocean and a natural boulder levy in the water. I'm glad Jay motivated us to go see the center of NZ. even though it did set us back a few hours for hitchhiking.
This sculptural structure is pointing to the geographical center of New Zealand.
Back at Jay's we grabbed our packs and walked downtown to the "i center" (NZ's info center) to borrow a sharpie for our cardboard sign and write Queenstown on it.
***Jay, you were a fabulous host and we were very comfortable at your place. We hope you come visit Portland one day
We got directions from a local as to what was the best rd to be standing on with our sign and off we went.
I felt like it was taking a little longer to get picked up this time around but soon a mom in her mini van, minus the kids pulled over and drove us 2 towns up. From there a car with 3 travelers from Switzerland picked us up. We told them where we were headed and they told us, okay, this is where we are headed. So we hopped in and when we turned down a road that felt like we were going back towards Nelson, Alicia pulled out the map. They were actually heading back, even past Nelson! So we quickly told them and had them pull over before we lost to much ground. How fun would starting all over again be!?
I told Alicia we were just going to have to let the wind take us wherever today. I highly doubted we'd make it all the way to Queenstown so we needed to be up for anything today.
We walked a ways up the street to a good pull off point for cars and had a "Farrell" couple offer us a ride. They weren't going much further up the rd so we politely declined. We had a girl in her early twenties pick us up to take us into another town and then we waited along the roadside again.
I noticed the temp. had started dropping the last night we were at Jay's house and today was sunny but the windchill had picked up.
Alicia and I weren't to sure how busy of an area we were in and we were thinking if maybe walking further into a busier area. I was holding our Queenstown sign and I saw a lady across the street watering her garden. I asked Alicia to run over to her and find out how far away the town was. As soon as she got to the ladies fence a guy in an older gold colored BMW pulled over. I leaned down towards his window and told him that there were 2 of us. He said I'm heading to Christchurch, I can take you that far and you'll probably have a better chance getting to Queenstown from there. I yelled to Alicia and she came running over to load up with me and our packs.
Shaun was the name of our driver (and now new friend) for the next 6 or so hours. We was headed home from working a few days in Nelson and was thinking he'd pick up some hitchhikers to keep him company on his way home. This is something I've found to be common with a lot of people who are working & traveling many hours on the road.
He told us he new of a few areas off the side of the road we should see on our way home. He was very excited to show us new things and teach us a little. We shared our trail mix with him along the drive which he enjoyed very much.
Our first stop was to see a river that was the color of tea because of the leaves that fall into it. There was no good trail to this river so we created our own through the wild bush and sticky branches. It was a pretty river and we ended up just below an old train bridge that had been taken down.
The next stop was quick. We pulled off the road again so Shaun could show us a birch tree that has a little bug that lives under the bark and it eats the soft part of the tree and it excretes a black waste that is sweet and makes the tree look burnt. Birds come along and eat the sweet waste.
After that the final stop was in a nature park for dinner and a quick jaunt around a board walk to look at some native plants. It felt very lord of the rings like.
Our dinner was a potluck of everything Alicia and I had on us and what Shaun had on him. He was impressed with what 2 hitchhiking girls pulled out of their bags to eat. We had salad with dressing, chick peas (he thought that was very Pdx of us), tomatoes, and carrots. We had hard boiled eggs and he had coffee and a Danish. We took some photos and then back into the car we went.
Shaun let me use his phone to get on FB and message a few people in Christchurch that we had contact with. We were in search of a place to stay. I didn't have any luck reaching them. Our friend Scott Peters messaged us from Auckland and said worst case go to the Christchurch airport and sleep. Apparently they have a really nice airport complete with showers and backpackers have been finding out about this and camping out there. Haha!
Turned out there was no need for any of this and it was getting so late, checking into a hostel wasn't an option either. Shaun invited Alicia and I to stay the night with him and his wife Chrissy. We were very grateful for our new friend and all he was doing for us. How did we get so lucky!?
Our one night stay in Christchurch quickly turned into 2 nights. Chrissy was very welcoming and took good care of us giving us towels for a shower, blankets for a bed in the living room and her and Shaun made us breakfast in the mornings (we pitched in too).
Shaun gave us his bus card so we would get a discount in fare when ridding it and a tour of their garden, the screen printing shop, his neighborhood and the beach at the end of their road. They drive us into town and took us by some of the earthquake devastation from 3 years ago, as well. Not much from the earthquake has been cleaned up. There are apparently a lot of insurance issues trying to be worked out.
Alicia and I toured the city museum to see a show on graffiti art. We walked around the CBD (central business district) and saw lots of food carts and more earthquake disaster areas. We tried to make it to a kiwi (the actual bird, not the nickname for the local New Zealander) exhibit but we realized we wouldn't have any time there as it was to far away by bus. We had a fun filled day regardless.
Our last night there we had a delicious homemade and organic (from their garden) dinner. We listened to the song "happy" while dancing and watching the music video to it and visited.
I put in several couch surfing requests for Queenstown as well.
After breakfast the next morning, Shaun drove us clear out to the very edge of Christchurch. Dropping us off just outside "cookie time" a New Zealand favorite.
Think Mrs. Fields cookies.
so we would have better luck hitching a ride.
He was worried about us with the weather being a bit colder and offered us his long underwear and then we'd mail it back to him. As kind of an offer as that was we politely declined and layered up our own clothing.
We were picked up quickly by a guy (justin) traveling to Dunedin for work. He was happy to have the company for an hour or so.
When he dropped us off at a junction we were picked up before we had even fully unloaded our gear from Justin's car.
Will and Ali picked us up with just enough room for the 2 of us and our packs, left in their car. They were from England but lived in New Zealand now. They both had beautiful dreadlocks and where so cute together! They owned a shop in Auckland where they did dreadlocks for other people. Queenstown was where they were headed so Ali Could get a couple more days of tattoo work in on her back. We stopped for a lunch break along side a lake town that reminded me of the ski bowl area on mt. Hood. There was a short zip line that we all played on & they talked to us about a town called Wanaka that we should see. They said it was beautiful and basically a smaller cheaper version if Queenstown. They recommended stopping there before going all the way. We took their advice.
They dropped us off at the turn off for Wanaka and once again, before we were fully unloaded from their car we caught a ride with 2 Germans in a VW bus who were headed there as well. We sat in the back on their bed holding on to the inside of the roof and side panels as we bumped along the rd and into Wanaka.