I made it to New Zealand with ‘no worries’. It was a very awesome flight. I managed to score a row in the plane which had nobody else in it. 3 seats all to myself. I folded up the armrests and slept for 7 of the 12 hour flight (11 hours and 55 minutes was the final tally). Flying overnight in an empty row to stretch out gets my 100% seal of approval.
I got into Auckland at 7am, caught the connector, and then arrived at Christchurch at 10am. It was raining buckets – not a hopeful sign. Took a while to get the rental car and everything sorted out; but it came off without a hitch and I checked into the hostel I’m staying at. Wonderful place.
Christchurch is wonderful city – not very big – has the feel of a college town to it. It was sunny and warm today – did a lot of walking around. Got to see Rutherford’s Den – the tiny lab where Ernest Rutherford did all his grad research (he split the atom with the famous gold foil test). Saw lots of galleries, botanical gardens, museums, etc. Went to the cathedral for mass today (it was in town and a 5 minute walk) and they said it was the local bishop – but he didn’t move diagonally even once while I was watching. 😉
Driving in New Zealand? Ok – what do you say but wild. You drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. The steering wheel is on the ‘wrong’ side of the car, the shifter is on the ‘wrong’ side of where you’re used to. Everything is in km and km/h. But I checked, and they still have a quarter-pounder at McDonald’s (not a Royale with cheese). Right of way rules are different; but logical. I went out to Akoara today on a 100km drive and it was a blast. I think I’m getting used to it, but I’m taking it real slow and careful. Once you get out of town (think the size of a little smaller Lafayette, or maybe smaller Salem) you get out into farm country. Tons of cows and sheep grazing on these wild hills. Very rural, felt a bit like home. Many farms do have programs where you can volunteer to work for a day for free place to stay/food – but I won’t have time in the itinerary. Maybe I’ll just stop by and talk with some folks.
Tomorrow I’m headed out to the filming location of Helms Deep and Rohan/City of Edoras in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The only way out there is a day’s trip by 4wd and knowing where it is. So, I got a guide to take me for the whole day. Should be great. Outside of the filming location for the Shire (which is up by Auckland) this is *the* place I wanted to see.
I bought a book that shows you where and how to get to most of the major filming sites for the Lord of the Rings.
Hopefully I’ll catch as many of them as I can as I go.
Tuesday will see me on my way to Mt Cook which promises spectacular scenery if the weather is good. Weather turned for the better after a scary first day of torrential downpour. Thank goodness for that. I’m really hoping for good weather tomorrow.
I’m working on fixing up my webpage and I’ll be adding this content. Found an internet joint that allows you to bring in your own laptop and plug it in – which is cool. It looks like I’ll only be getting internet access every couple days or so. Other than that – it’s an awesome trip so far.
New Zealand accents are awesome. The folks are super friendly. I’m doing really well and it’s nice that the time difference is only about 4 hours (+1 day) so the jet-lag was minimal. Though it did still take a day for me to shrug off the airplane compression/decompression thing. Seems 12 hours of that got to me after a while. Well, that was a bit rambly, but that will suffice for today since my time’s almost up. I’m headed home to get a good nights sleep for tomorrows activities!