A Travellerspoint blog

south island trip, part 1

twisted cities and pancake rocks

all seasons in one day
View Studying in Auckland on ctamler's travel map.

kirstin, zack and i hopped a plane tuesday evening. got into christchurch without mishap and checked into our hostel. wandering around looking for food that night was reminiscent of the wellington trip...the restaurants all looked delicious but closed. we played on the giant purple sperm in cathedral square, wandered into a little alley strung with red lights and sporting a huge fluorescent yellow cross, and finally gave up: burger king it was. they have these amazing late night specials which probably aren't actually as good of a deal as you think they are, but they are for multiple people and give you multiple burgers and fries and drinks, and we get them more than we probably should.

a quite different feel from wellington. less artsy-fartsy, less hip and new. lots of churchy and cathedral-esque buildings everywhere. an older scent. as old as nz gets, anyway.

we had a ten-bed room at base christchurch. zack and i both slept on bottom bunks, and the slats supporting the mattresses above us were thickly graffitied -- his was racist-themed, mine focused on sex sex sex. (one memorable quote from mine: "i would swim up a river of shit with my mouth wide open just to suck on the cock of the guy who last banged you." classy.) there were a bunch of israelis in the room, and one kept talking to us about how stupid americans are. also classy. and a texan named troy who's studying in aussie and failing all of his exams...which probably just fueled the israeli's fire.

in the morning, i picked up the car from the airport, which all went smoothly; then i drove back to the hostel, which didn't. driving in christchurch reminds me of driving in pittsburgh, especially the north side: a maze of one-way streets, confusing signs that point to nowhere and then leave you hanging. eventually i found it and off we jetted towards abel tasman via greymouth and punakaiki, stopping on the way to shop for our 3.5-day backpacking trip:

- jerky
- trail mix (an accidental 1.5kg bag...bulk can be dangerous)
- 3 salami rolls
- cheese
- 2 loaves of bread
- peanut m&ms
- peanuts
- chocolate-covered raisins
- peanut butter
- jelly
- round tea crackers
- apples
- 28 muesli bars (essentially granola)

now listen. i know that i have used "all seasons in one day" on this blog many times to describe the nz weather. but this drive, it actually, really, literally applied, in a way that make all the other times look like big fat lies.

when we left christchurch, it was raining.

driving through gorges, it was alternately overcast and sleeting.

later, around the time we stopped for lunch in greymouth -- on the sea-foamy beach where we had a seafoam battle -- the sun was out.

in punakaiki, it HAILED for ten minutes.

from there, we drove right under a huge rainbow (we could see where it ended, in the half-dry riverbed beside us). then we drove through thick snow that stuck to street signs, trees, grass. and, finally, stiff gusts of wind that blew our practically weightless nissan heartlessly about the road, poor butterfly.

punakaiki: the pancake rocks. super. better even than i expected. they are apparently a geological mystery. they're stacked in layers, and the softer layers are eroding quicker, so the effect is even more pronounced; and geologists don't know why they formed that way. lots of cool natural formations, like the surge pool that seems a perfect place for a pirate to hide myriad treasure chests. i got a free coffee from a nearby cafe because the owner forgot to charge me, and when i told him, he said "well, it's not often that i do something like that, so consider it your lucky day."

i LOVE free things.

we got to the barn (our campsite outside abel tasman, in marahau) after dark, and set up the tent in the black and rain. and let me just say that this tent, which was to be our home for the next four nights, was broken.

"kirstin, didn't you say you checked the tent and it was going to work?"

"well, i never set it up all the way..."

let me also just say that this tent was clearly designed by idiots who attempt to cater to human laziness by making it TOO easy to set up and as a result making it extremely difficult to carry (the poles stay in the tent permanently) and to fix when broken. ultimately, though, it worked fine, though that first night we had one collapsed wall, which made it a bit cramped. it was freezing and raining and none of us slept well, which was not an auspicious beginning for our tramp...but do not, friends, judge a book by its cover.

Posted by ctamler 11:34 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.