Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our Journey Into Middle Earth Part VI: Farewell

Saturday Feb 8, 2014

We spent the morning reading on the deck again…absorbing the last views of The Remarkables.

We headed into town to buy some packing cubes for our new bag (things are loose and sliding around in its cavernous belly, so we thought some packing cubes (on sale!!) might help).  While there, I realized that we’d left our precious water bottles back in the fridge, so I took the car to go get them while Preston ran to the pharmacy. 

Suddenly I’ve reverted to a 1950s housewife!! What the heck? I was super nervous to take the car and venture out on my own!! I’ve driven on the left side in England, so I don’t know what I was worried about. I think I’ve just gotten comfortable with Preston ever present by my side (scary!!). I did really well and was super proud of myself till I pulled in to pick up Pres and hit the windshield washers instead of the turn signal. Since I’ve been laughing at him doing this for the last 2 weeks…it was pretty funny and he took great satisfaction from my mistake ;) Dang.

Our drive to the eastern coastal town of Timaru was about 4 hours. We drove, again, through crystal clear lakes bordering the foothills and beautiful farmland.

Preston was seriously craving Burger King, but we couldn’t find one. I felt like such typical Americans as we drove past every charming Mom and Pop shop scowling that they weren’t something cheap and recognizable. I don’t even know myself!! Haha. I am not much of a fast food person, but a craving is a craving, I guess…even when it’s not your own :P

We arrived in Timaru. The town was totally dead. It was breezy and cool. We walked around the port town, but nearly everything was closed. The town seems to shut down between 2 and 5:30. And this is a Saturday!! Our two options for lunch were a plate of random fried foods at our hotel or a basket of bread and a beer at the place down the way. We settled for the fried food. Since there wasn’t much to do…we spent the afternoon updating the blog, adding pics online, and reading.

Preston was excited to find a store with the nickname he gave one of his best friends

The people in these photographs were the ONLY people

Sailor Monument (kind of like Long Beach!!)

Timaru…not too exciting ;)

Sunday 9 Feb 2014

Today was the first day we’ve woken up to rain!! The air was chilly and the rain was misty. We took advantage of the excellent internet to call our families on skype before setting off to Christchurch.

The 2 hour drive to Christchurch was appropriately gloomy and gray as we say goodbye to New Zealand.

At 10am, we found a Burger King and we found ourselves in the drive thru ordering burgers (at 10am!!).  We thought the woman said the total was $30 (about 5 times). The menu was kind of confusing, but I couldn’t understand how it could be so much. Nonetheless, we turned over the money…much to her confusion, b/c she had repeatedly been saying THIRTEEN. Ha. Stupid Americans :P

We got to Christchurch a bit early, so we drove through the town to check it out. There are some sweeping and inviting green parks throughout the city. It’s very English.

We needed to return the car, so we headed to our hotel to clean the car out and organize our bags. We had the address (as always) from Booking.com’s handy email summary, so we headed over to 234 Ilam Rd.

I’d booked this hotel a few days ago based on its cheap price and proximity to the rental car return and airport. When we arrived…it was a run-down house.  There wasn’t even a front door!! There was just a glass sliding door with the curtains drawn, underwear on the clothesline, and muddy boots outside.

Not my pic (from Kayak.com), but just so you get a visual

We had no idea what to do. We walked by a few times on the street. We double checked the address. We double checked the GPS. It seemed we were in the right place. Preston decided to just go up and tap on the glass, but then he chickened out. I was laughing so hard I was crying. I re-checked my summary email and started to worry. Did I book at someone’s HOUSE?! Some UNFRIENDLY person’s house?! I mean, there were no signs or ANYTHING!! Just underwear, dirty boots, and a closed door. It didn’t even look like anyone was home.

Since we had no internet access, we decided to drive to find some free wireless and MAKE SURE that we were in the right place.

After some time, we found wireless and sure enough!! We had been to the right place. It seemed it was a hotel of sorts…mostly just bedrooms with nothing but a bed and a door with no lock. I had mistakenly taken it for a hostel when I’d booked it…but I’m not sure WHAT it was.  The reviews weren’t bad, necessarily. Most people said it was tidy and cozy. A lot of people said it was awkward and confusing—that some weird guy let you into your room with just a bed and access to a bathroom in the hall. Haha. My mistake, I guess.

We decided it was just too awkward!! Luckily, there was no penalty to cancel, so Preston found us another NORMAL hotel ($50 more, but worth it, I think!!) and we checked in before returning the car.


We’ve spent the afternoon organizing our bags and verifying online the next parts of our trip. Sad to leave New Zealand (we were jealous to hear that someone is leaving tonight to drive our car back to Auckland), but excited for what our adventures will bring in Australia!!

Thoughts on New Zealand:
Clean, beautiful!! Let's all move here!!

More sheep than people

Before we came we heard that the South Island is the better, but we think North and South are equally awesome!!

The only beans you can buy are baked beans. In about 100 varieties. 

Many campaigns against drinking

The nicest people I've ever met

Overuse of the word 'wee' (as in small)

The locals have no concept of a 'moderate' hike :P

Roads are good, but mostly one lane

Wifi is scarce

The outdoors are plentiful ;) (not a bad exchange)

So much in common with America, while being completely different at the same time

Crystal clear, surreal blue waters

Good summer weather


Not many bugs, animals

It seems to be perfectly acceptable to not wear shoes...walking in town, on a boat, in stores, etc. No shoes.

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