For three weeks, we traveled the country of New Zealand (#WatsonsdriveNZ) and blogged our way through it. Follow along + catch up by reading Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen, Part Fifteen, Part Sixteen and Part Seventeen.
Hi folks! Been a week or two since my last New Zealand post, but I’m back at it! We left off in a little town called Methvan, basically a suburb of Christchurch. Let’s continue!
Our stay at Skitime Lodge in Methvan was definitely the best value for our money. Our room rate included breakfast and was a total of $100 including tax. Hah! When you’re traveling at the pace we were, all we needed in every city was a moderate price, a queen bed and a hot shower. An easy hour’s drive and we were in the centre of Christchurch. Four years ago, the second of two earthquakes within six months severely damaged Christchurch’s infrastructure. We had heard from travellers along the way, “Christchurch is really… depressing… not much there.” Or “You have two nights in Christchurch? Why…?” We went in with an open mind… but we’re really thankful our trip ended here. Our energy (okay, my energy) was running low after three weeks on the road and ending in a city with not much to do was a-okay with me.
Near downtown, a shopping mall that was damaged in the earthquake was re-built with shipping containers! That was pretty cool. Loved all the bright colours and the mix of cafes and shops.
We had lunch at Base Pizza and smoothies at the cafe beside before exploring the neighbourhood.
It was pretty surreal to see Christchurch Cathedral (one of the most “iconic” Christchurch buidlings) completely destroyed. They are in the middle of a campaign to raise $27 million to re-build the church, after $40 million was provided via insurance company.
Our home base for the next two nights was Gingerbread Lodge, a sweet bed and breakfast we found on Hotels.com. We loved our room at the front of the home, overlooking the treed street! We were thankful for a comfy room.
Much of our first day was spent simply driving around. We had someone recommend when we asked what to do in the city, “Oh, you could drive to Lyttelton? To the port and walk around?” Okay cool. We drive to Lyttelton. There’s nothing there. Nowhere to walk. A few random cafes that didn’t look entertaining. A literal port. And a wood mill.
We were beginning to get a strange vibe from Christchurch…
So we drove to Sumner, a neighbourhood we picked up a brochure about. THIS place actually had a great vibe – finally – after seeing nothing we really liked all day, hah!
We found Totally Gelato and they had, yep, chocolate sorbet – my dairy free favourite.
We wasted time wandering around we were hungry enough for dinner at Costa Taverna. And wow. We’re convinced it’s the best restaurant in Christchurch. Amaaaaazing greek food and awesome service. You should definitely hit this place up if you are ever here.
Our first full day in the city started with breakfast at our Bed and Breakfast. Oh my goodness, sometimes you meet the strangest people while you travel. I doubt I’m going to be able to do this lady justice (I should have written this right after, not a month after!) but the lady sitting across from us at breakfast was… crazy. She was loud, Australian and proud. I sat at the head of the table, leaving Randy unfortunately, right across from her. She talked a mile a minute – said way too many racist/offensive/gross things to count and most of all, laughed so hard at everything SHE said. Our favourite line was “Oh boy, you meet ALL kinds of people when you travel!” – talking about somebody else she had met who was odd? I would like to meet that person. Because lady, we think the same thing about you.
We felt like we had totally exhausted the options Christchurch held for us even a few hours before… and we love zoos. So despite the rain, we decided to hit up the Orana Wildlife Park all day! Knowing there was nothing else we really wished to accomplish that day, we really took our time. Check out Randy’s favourite… the meerkat. Haha!
They had a bird exhibit that you could walk through and they had lots of Kea! (This is the kind of parrot we saw flying by the car in Milford Sound! And ironically saw none of at Kea Point in Mount Cook.) We were both fascinated by this bird… well, that’s until they got a little frisky and started grabbing a hold of Randy’s shoe. When they make noises they are LOUD. There was too many of them, I got a little freaked out. But it was still fun. HA!
Apparently they are attracted to bright colours?
The emu. Always a strangely fascinating animal. God is so creative. How do those legs hold THAT.
Another favourite! A cute little kiwi! (PS. I shot this image at ISO 12800 on manual focus… haha. Total luck that one worked out of 40 images. It was pitch black in there.)
This! This is a tasmanian devil! They can’t really climb, so they were in an area with only a 2-3 foot wall, so you could really see them up close!
Another feature of this zoo – you can pay extra to go in this truck cage while they feed them! We watched but it’s pretty crazy how majestic and beautiful these lions are.
Post-zoo, the rain had stopped! And we headed back to the only neighbourhood of Christchurch that appealed to us… Sumner. For chocolate sorbet again, obviously. ;) It was at THIS point in my day I realized I had eaten a dark chocolate bar that morning, a chocolate brownie for LUNCH and chocolate sorbet for an afternoon snack. I was pretty ashamed ;) Not really. But it was another step in the whole “Okay, we can’t find much to do in this city, all I’m eating is chocolate apparently and I’d like to get back to green kale smoothies at home and my gym routine.”
Our last dinner in Christchurch was at the Old Vicarage home! I loved this spot. Randy is so good at the restaurant hunting. Such a cute exterior – lots of little rooms you can book for your event. We were seated in a room with the cutest floral wallpaper. I’m currently trying to convince Randy to let me wallpaper a room of our someday-house like that. (He doesn’t like floral anything. And I’lll take one of everything floral.) As we dined on our beautiful meals, we reflected back on the last three weeks of traveling – surreal that in 36 hours we’d be flying home to Vancouver.
I love those “marker” moments in your life. I’m a nostalgic girl and I’m always reflecting on memories. I clearly remember sitting with Randy at a little cafe near our Auckland motel only one day into the trip. “Isn’t it crazy that we will be traveling for the next three weeks? THREE WEEKS! Can you imagine how much we’ll see?” I asked Randy. “It is really crazy. It’s going to be awesome.” he said.
It was crazy.
It was awesome.
We drove 5000km together.
We didn’t get sick of each other.
We didn’t even get that sick of the car.
I loved being able to take this trip-of-a-lifetime with my best friend.