Akaroa...On The Road Again

Trip Start Jan 15, 2011
1
4
38
Trip End Mar 19, 2011


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Where I stayed

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On our final day in Christchurch we stopped by the library to upload one of our blog entries and check email. A Chinese gentleman sat down next to me and enlisted me as his teacher. In fact, he called me "teacher," as though that were my name. From his gestures and the notes he presented me I quickly gathered that he was learning English and wanted me to help him pronounce the words correctly. I consented. As it turned out, I enjoyed being his impromptu "teacher" quite a bit. Katie, who had been listening with amusement whilst checking her email, pointed out that I was teaching him with an American accent. Up to this point he'd most likely been learning from someone with a Kiwi accent. Ahhhh...that explained a few moments of conflicting pronunciations. Yeah, from here on out he'll probably get different answers from the ones I was supplying. Sorry, chap. But it was still fun, and I took a picture with him to preserve the memory.

While walking around Christchurch we discovered that the Buskers Festival was starting in just one day. Busker is a term for street performer, and acts from all over the world were converging here to battle it out for our attention. There were musical acts, comedians, contortionists, jugglers, and of course the strange and indefinable. It sounded cool and different, but sadly we were going to miss it. We struggled with whether or not we should change our plans. Should we stop and see something on our way back through? Would we have to give something up in order to do so? Would it be worth it?

Those questions were left unanswered as I took my first turn at the wheel on the way out of the city. “Stay to the left, stay to the left...”

Katie navigated us out and into the surrounding hills where we stopped at The Sign of the Kiwi to take a short hike and see the whole of Christchurch from above. The day was clear, warm, and sunny. A beautiful view. Sheep ate nearby but we weren't close enough to touch one (sorry, Sarah. We'll keep trying for you). Continuing on, we wove our way through the hills and happened upon a shelter tucked into the hillside at The Sign of the Bellbird. We paused there and snapped a few shots. If I needed a shelter in a storm, this would definitely be my pick.

We continued to enjoy our lazy drive out to Akaroa, located on the Banks Peninsula. Katie played her iPod on the car radio and we gloried in the aquamarine bays filling the valley floors. We chose the Summit Road drive, which boasted the best views along the way. All was going swimmingly until we hit a gravel road. It wouldn’t have been a problem if the road was, say, the length of a driveway, but it was an actual road. You know, with miles. Our little car just wasn’t going to cut it. In fact, Scottie (that’s what we named him) had been going a max of 30 km up the steepest inclines so far - pedal to the metal, mind you. So we had zero faith he was bred for rougher roads. We had to turn back, which meant back tracking for an hour. At this disappointing turn of events, we switched drivers. And of course (oh me of little faith) Katie had us back to point A in no time – she cut that hour in half!

After a brief stop at a cheese making factory (sorry, no cheese making today) we wended our way into Akaroa. Now, did I mention that the roads we’d traveled were curvy? No? Well, they were. Very curvaceous mistresses, those roads, and they left us both with pounding headaches and angry stomachs. So our arrival in Akaroa was a happy one. Not to mention the glorious day we were having, which cast the quaint bayside town in a spectacular light. People were bustling about, swimming and sailing. We strolled along the beach and ate chips (with vinegar!). Yum!

Eventually we drove a bit further to the Onuku Farm Hostel. The farm sat on a hillside overlooking the bay. We were rather tired by the time we arrived, but the girl who checked us in was friendly and our room was airy and clean. We weren’t feeling excessively social, so we kept to ourselves as we ate dinner and went for a walk on the grounds. The wind was up as the sun set; grass and trees whipping under a spectacular light. The landscape rippled into a dusky tableau. A beautiful sight on our first evening in the hills of New Zealand.

_____

Around 6 A.M. we were awoken by an earthquake. Apparently it rated 5.1 on the Richter scale. It was short lived but felt like a train was passing by…right next to the bed. It wasn’t scary. Rather exciting, actually. A different way to start the day.

We got up early, ate breakfast, and headed out onto the Ridge Walkway Hike that started on the grounds of the farm hostel. The day was overcast with a touch of the drizzles. Not the stunning weather of the day before, but beautiful for hiking. We passed by sheep and cows and once in a while would hum a tune from The Lord of the Rings.

A quick detour took us to Look Out Rock. There was a warning sign posted regarding the instability of the area due to the big 2010 earthquake. We weren’t worried though. We knew that earthquake was a long time ago. The earth was perfectly sound now. Nothing to worry about in the least. Ahem…

We climbed up Look Out Rock and saw an amazing view of the bay stretching out to the sea. Simply breathtaking. I laid down on the outcrop and gazed over the edge to see the trees below me. It looked like Fangorn Forest. A section of trees right beneath were smashed and broken from what looked like rocks that had fallen from the cliff side…right underneath me. Was I worried? Nawww… Seriously, though, I wasn’t. I could have laid there forever, but we had a hike to finish.

The wind picked up once we started off again and the rain was coming down on and off. We marched up a steep incline all bundled up. Our rising body heat overcame us and we had to strip off a layer. Then we got to flatter ground and found ourselves chilled. Fine then. We put the layer back on. On and off, on and off went our layers, as though we were marching through menopause. I’m too young for this!

Clouds twirled in and wrapped around us, blocking our view of the sea. It was a shame, but we still enjoyed ourselves at the tip top of the hike where a rock was appropriately labeled “END.” Stopping there, staring out into the billowy white, we realized that the rock was not just a sign but a warning to go no further. In the thick of it one could easily step too far and fall right out to sea. So instead we sat down and cuddled in the cold before turning back.

On the way back we enjoyed experimenting with the video function on our camera. We attempted some rack focus shots on a eerie stretch of tree-covered pathway, la “The Lord of the Rings” (“The Fellowship of the Ring,” to be precise). We had minor to moderate success. And yes, we are dorks.

We relaxed by the wood burning stove in the hostel after completing our trek. I wrote and listened to the various languages being thrown about. German and English were interwoven through conversations while women giggled at their language lessons. It was a nice atmosphere. Katie spent her time reading. What was she reading? Why, The Hobbit of course. An appropriate choice for many reasons, not the least of which being that Katie is very hobbit-like and is often mistaken for one of those gentle, noble creatures.

We dashed out later to visit to the Akaroa Cemetery and walk through the center of town. As opposed to the day before, no one was around now that the sky was gray and the air brisk and biting. After a bit of grub later we were ready for an early slumber, which seems to have become a habit on this trip. A good habit, if I do say so myself.
__________

UPDATE! Alice and Katie are now embarking on a Round the World trip!
Visit aliceintraveland.com to follow along on their continuing
adventures!

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Comments

marco on

Great blog entry! Very well written, so good that I can feel the earth move under my feet, smell the sheep, see the obnoxious orcs, and the nasty nazguls. If you run into Sauron, try and get an autographed photo with him. I do love your blog and photos! They are much appreciated here in the land of the free and home of the brave. Love to you guys/xxxx

mommy! on

Breathtaking photography and such descriptive commontary!!!! Oh how I am living vicariously through your experiences! Love and Miss you much! Mommy!

Dad on

Girls - Great Blog. Thanks for spending the time to write it. Judging by your entries and pictures, there aren't too many tourists in the places that you've been so far. Glad you're enjoying yourselves so much. I have a question though - Isn't it summertime there? You always seem to be bundled up!

sawah on

sheeeeep! i want to eat these meals with you. gorgeous pics. the picture title "A Shared Joy" sounds suspiciously like fanfic.

Tricia T on

Hi Alice and Katie! Thanks so much for including me in your blog notification list. I have really enjoyed your commentary and the photos you have posted so far. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your awesome trip.

sawah on

kia ora kia ora

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