12.03.2011 - 21.03.2011
Seemed like a good time to leave Hastings when we started working fifteen-hour days in the apple packhouse. Yikes... So I packed up my staff, made up a sign reading 'WELLINGTON - I HAVE CHOCOLATE!' and hit the road. Normally a little over three hours, I got there in about seven. Four rides, a little walking and a Tui brewery later I found myself in Wellington. I stayed with Brendan and Urs, friends from Kiwiburn who gave me a ride to Hastings in the first place, in their amazing apartment with their exceptionally fluffy cat and stunning views of the city and the harbour. Turns our I really like the city, reminds me a lot of Portland, but a day and a half later I caught the ferry across the Cook Straight anyway. Sticking with the plan this time, I gotta find a Mo in Queenstown soon.
My friend John told me to do this and it worked perfectly.
The six and a half meter tall Tripod sculpture, a tribute to Wellington's film industry.
Some of my favorite graffiti in Te Aro, Wellington.
The three federal government buildings from left to right, the Beehive, Parliament House, and the Parliament Library.
So long, Wellington, until we meet again...
I stayed in Picton, a small town in the Marlborough Sounds that would nearly cease to exist if it weren't for the ferry from Wellington. Picton, my introduction to the South Island. I stayed for a day and a half, drank beer with Belgians and Germans, and caught a cheap bus towards Christchurch. We stopped for lunch halfway there in a town called Kaikoura and I just didn't get back on, the town was so nice. Beaches full of fur seals backed by the Southern Alps, just starting to get some snow on those high peaks. Snow? Better keep moving south...
Picton's cemetery sits on a hill with a nice view of the sound - a damn good place to rest, if you ask me.
The Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean from Kaikoura.
Just south of Kaikoura, as the highway follows the coast, I saw a few penguins sitting on the beach, apparently stunned and confused. They just stand there, looking around as if wondering how they got there. Simultaneously adorable and hilarious. I got in to Christchurch and stayed in one of the hostels still open - there aren't many and the ones that are are half full of relief workers. The city, though, the city is an interesting place right now. Granted, not much to see, what with the army restricting access to the city center and all, but there are still these beautiful, ornate old Victorian houses on every block. Some seem fine, some are missing a few shingles and windows, some are half demolished... Seems like every block has a house or two that's uninhabitable and its very own brand new pile of rubble. Red, yellow, green notices on every building in the city; large cracks cutting through sidewalks and roads and yards; water and sand, liquefaction, pushing up to the surface through cracks and covering yards and roads. The earthquake wasn't kind to the old cemetery. Nothing ever is, really, but a lot more headstones are toppled and mangled these days. Like I said, this is an interesting place right now. This time around it was just a place for me to sleep since the bus schedule wouldn't work in my favor, wouldn't let me continue south after I arrived. But that's okay. I had a long wander, survived a 4.0 aftershock, got a real cheap bus ticket to Queenstown and headed straight there in the morning.
Knox Church in the Saint Albans neighborhood.
Liquefaction in the Barbados Street cemetery, Christchurch.
There were only a handful of us on the bus and our driver, Roger, was great. We convinced him to let us linger in one town on the way so we could visit a cheese factory (he joined us shortly) and later he stopped the bus on the side of a road so we could pick pears! Awesome. Nine hours and NZ$35 (US$27) later I got to Queenstown, dubbed the adventure capitol of New Zealand. Yes, it's beautiful and exquisitely picturesque, but it's also full of all these loud, obnoxious tourists. Including me. And nobody likes a tourist. Think of Tahoe and there you have it. Some people love it but it's a money hole, catering to blood richer than mine. Bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boats... But that's all okay, because in Queenstown I found the Mo I'd been looking for. My travel partner from January, Jen (short for Mo), was leaving for Australia and this was our last chance to hang out for a while. We got a good day and a half in before she left and I had to make plans for the next two weeks. South? How far south can I go?! Milford Sound is as good of start as any.
Lake Tekapo. The lake is a wonderful turquoise because glaciers have left rock flour suspended in the water, which apparently reflects the color of the sky differently.
Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu from the garden where I pitched my tent.
Operation: Find a Mo - one week and 1200 kilometers later - was a resounding, drunken success.