Friday, February 6, 2009

First days in New Zealand,

irstly I am still really far behind in this blog so I am not sure if anyone is even bothering to look at it. I will however continue it because at the end of the day it is a journal of where I went and what I done which I, at least, will be able to look back on with fond? memories.

In order to try and catch up with where I am (currently Oamaru - look it up) I am going to have to try to link some of my photos to my facebook account. This is because Its taking too much time to download the photos.

Anyhow back to the blog.

6th - 8th Jan

So I arrived at the airport in Christchurch and got the airbus into the centre of town. The bus driver looked like he was a skinhead thug but turned out to be probably the most helpful bus driver I have ever seen - not to me because I had a fair idea where I was going - but to other passengers. He gave instructions to people of where to go and helped two mothers and their prams on the bus. In order for the mothers to get room on the bus another mother sacrificed her space and got off the bus with her pram - even though it was a stop earlier than she wanted. Its things like that immediately make you like countries and people so I knew straight away I was going to like New Zealand.

I had booked into 'Base' backpackers which was right in the centre of town beside the cathedral. I picked it mostly because the volunteer project with CVNZ (conservation volunteers New Zealand) I had booked on included 3 nights free accommodation in Base. Unfortunately that accommodation started on the Friday and I arrived on the Tuesday which meant that I had 6 nights in Christchurch - just a little too much.

In hindsight I should have stayed one night then taken myself off to some other place for a couple of nights before returning to Christchurch. Much as I thought Christchurch was a nice city there was just not enough to do to keep you occupied for 6 nights.

'Base' is a typical large 'Flash' packers place complete with its own bar and travel agency. My room was on the second floor and after the usual trouble with the cardkey (i am getting used to having to go back to get a second key or card before I get into my room). I eventually got into my room which was a 6 bed dorm. One other bed was currently taken and being slept in by a Danish girl which left 1 good bottom bunk and, incredibly a double bed bottom bunk! I laid claim as quick as a flash - room to move. Soon afterwards two more girls came in - both English. One, Grace was on a round the world trip and had just come from South America via Sydney for New Year. The other, Ellie had already been travelling around New Zealand for a while on the Kiwi experience bus.

Before coming to New Zealand I had been trying to decide on the best method to go around and see the sights. There are 3 bus companies which take backpackers around from one hostel to another. Each of them has their pros and cons.

Kiwi experience is the most popular because its cheapest but has also been described as the 'fuck truck' or 'shag mobile' as it seems to consist of 18 to 20 year olds trying to get legless and their legover every night. (my sort of bus I hear you cry!) .

Magic bus or 'Tragic bus' has a slightly older crowd and is usually more expensive. Stray is the last one and has the most destinations. It is also usually the dearest. In reality from what I seen all 3 buses had a cross section of people and ages but all 3 buses generally had people half my age - not good at all. I did not have to make a decision about which bus to choose until I came back from my volunteering which gave me two weeks grace.

Once i was booked in I did a small walk of the surrounding area to get something to eat - which turned out to be bangers and mash at a slightly upmarket English bar. Then it was onto the internet back at base to look for a dentist! After noting down all the dentists in the immediate vicinity I went down to the bar for a couple of pints but headed to bed early - it's not good to go to a dentist to with beer breath! Ellie from the Kiwi experience arrived in sometime in the early hours of the morning - that's KIWI for you.

Early next morning I went in search of a dentist. Normal people would just phone up and make an appointment but I am not normal people. For something as important as my teeth I wanted to see what the place looked like. Also with my accent on the phone I could be stuck for 15mins trying to explain what is wrong with my tooth when a simple gape and point would speak more than any words.

Eventually after a lot of legwork I found one and was able to get an appointment that afternoon. For the rest of the morning and afternoon I went on a tour around the inner part of the city (see link to facebook) including the cathedral and a walk up the steeple. It was a fantastically sunny day - great for walking around taking snapshots.

At 4pm it was back to the dentist to see what he could do about my tooth. I ma not usually afraid of dentists but this one was slightly dour and did not give me good vibes. He took one look at the tooth and said that he could do a temporary white filling which should do for a couple of months. Fine by me. The dentist room was much like any other I had been too except for two things. it had a TV mounted high on one wall which was currently showing the cricket (anaesthetic perhaps?). It also had a comical poster of a brick wall with comical graffiti which was not on the wall but on the ceiling. I remember trying to read some of them while he dentist was drilling and filling my tooth. they had sayings like:

Wet paint, that's a notice not an instruction.

I choked Linda Lovelace.

Save trees, eat beaver.
and one for me:

Reality is an illusion brought on by lack of alcohol.

After he had finished and I had gotten the most painful part of the procedure out of the way - paying - I went back to the backpackers to wait for my numb mouth to recover.

I thought that the best cure for the slight pain when the anaesthetic wore off would be some drink. The two Kiwi lads from my room turned out to be electricians down in Christchurch to work and we all went down to the bar and played pool. Some other lads they had met while doing a BBQ in the kitchen also joined in. By the time the lads left to find some late night pizza (I stayed) I was wasted and ended up talking to some South African guys before crawling to bed.

The next day I continued my tour of Christchurch concentrating on the fantastic botanical gardens and the free museum (which I did not finish as I did not have enough time).

Back at the hostel room I met Ellie and went with her for a couple of pints down in the bar before having an early night. The kiwis were working late that night and Ellie had to leave at about 7am the next morning on her KIWI bus - so no boozing partners!

Here are my facebook photos of christchurch - hope you can see them!




I'm still reading your blog, so keep up the good work.

Its saturday 7th Feb here and Man City beat Middlesborough 1 - 0. Belamy scored and Shay Given made an impressive debut for City.

Claire said...

I'm still reading too :-)
Maybe not as often as i should be - just got caught up on all your travels, sounds fabulous :-) stay safe xo