Finding a Car, Missing Santa
Trip Start Oct 17, 2009
54Trip End Oct 16, 2010
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Where I stayed
I immediately liked the serene and relaxed city centre which is no bigger than a town by "back home" standards, although the nightlife wasn’t offering too strong a pulse aside from the odd hilarious drunken office Christmas do. Having said that, it was only a Tuesday and I was taken enough with Christchurch anyway to be able to imagine myself working there for a while. That was a consideration for the future though; for now it was a few drinks, a bit of live music and then back to bunk after some sad goodbyes to Nath who was heading south to meet up with his Studley friends in Queenstown. After nine weeks of travel together, a good five of which had been spent sharing a bed due to the predomination of double rooms over twins in Asia, it was strange to see him go but we’d be meeting back up briefly for Christmas and could congratulate ourselves on having seen so much in such a short space of time. He still looks like Gordon Strachan mind.
With Gordon gone, myself and Tony set ourselves to the task of finding a car armed with a handful of brochures and web printouts offering promises of 20 dollars rental per day
With the car ready to collect the following day, we had an afternoon to spare so decided to head out of town to the harbour settlement of Lyttleton which had been described as "amazing" by a local I’d chatted to on the plane from Auckland. That proved to be a slightly exaggerated description – the town is very much a working port although the surrounding cliffs are marked by a smattering of quaint cottages and bungalows providing smatterings of colour against the green cliffs. The Visitor Centre promises a “heritage trail” which we duly embarked on and it takes you round a ten minute loop of two streets via a series of information points telling supposedly “quirky” stories about the town’s history. The first information point is missing, meaning that we went several hundred yards past the loop before having to turn back and the “quirkiest” tale I found was an old anecdote about a shrinking church which used to be so treacherous it had worshippers fearing the building as well as God on a Sunday. The other stories simply revolved around people leaving ships and setting up schools and houses – hardly comparable to Roald Dahl’s finest. Never mind, at the end of the trail there is a sign directing you on a ten minute walk to the “Time Ball” which sounded futuristic, exciting and well worth the walk. It isn’t. It’s just a maritime navigation centre and the ball itself is just a big lead one which descends down a pole to allow mariners to reset their chronometers
We had a quiet night in Christchurch as we had an early start and I need to preserve some funds too. We were waiting to pick up our car by the time the hire company opened their doors at 8am the following morning and it looked, well, cute. Toyota by brand, a Vitz by model, it would be taking us South down the coast to Dunedin by way of a couple of stops to begin with. We’d even managed to bag ourselves a passenger in the shape of Andy, a Scottish lad who won my favour straight away by being much, much balder than me, yet younger. We fitted the bags and bodies (ours that is, not dead ones) into the car much more easily than anticipated and found out that the Vitz was unexpectedly, an automatic. So, it really was simply a case of stepping on the accelerator and we were heading down the coast.