Sunday February 3rd
My plane landed at Christchurch at about 12.30am, along with five
others, so there was a long wait getting through customs and biosecurity.
They took my tent away to fumigate, gave it back repacked but without the
pole or the pegs, then came running after me to return those! Adrienne's
flight had come in half an hour earlier. We got a taxi after a bit of
a wait and made it to the motel at what must have been nearly 2am.
Otira Gorge Viaduct [aev]
We were supposed to be picked up by someone with the hire car at 9am,
but they didn't show and it took us ages to find a phone number for them.
They took us out to their office, where we did the paperwork, and then
we headed into Christchurch to do our food shopping and to buy a gas
canister for Adrienne's stove (since they can't be taken on planes).
Once we got underway it was a pleasant drive across the Canterbury plains,
climbing up to Arthur's Pass, where we stopped for lunch and I bought
maps and route guides for the Three Passes trip. On the other side of
the pass we stopped to marvel at the engineering feats required to put
a road through the Otira gorge.
We reached Punakaiki in mid-afternoon and went straight to the motor camp.
There were no cabins there, so we pitched our tent next to Joe's (which
had a note for us on it) and went off to do the short tourist walks,
the main track around the pancake rocks and the blowhole and the Truman
track a few kilometres to the north. The pancake rocks
Punakaiki coast [aev]
Pancake rocks [aev]
We met up with Joe in the pub
(there's nowhere much else in Punakaiki to be in the evening), where
people had gathered to watch the final Australia-South Africa one day
cricket game. There was even a South African tourist there, but of course
all the Kiwis were barracking for South Africa. I overhead a couple
of German girls with the classic incredulous comment about cricket -
"they play for five days, and then there is no result!"
New Zealand and Australia:
New Zealanders get far more worked up about the trans-Tasman rivalry than
Australians. And generally Australia looms far larger in New Zealand
than vice versa - newspapers in New Zealand give Australia the kind of
"special attention" that the United States and Great Britain get in
both countries, whereas newspapers in Australia cover New Zealand in
much the same way they cover Fiji or New Guinea.
Next: the Inland Pack Track
Up: New Zealand South Island 2002