Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The Great Kiwi Road Trip - Day VII

Tekapo --> Christchurch
342.4 km
24th December '07

With absolutely nothing to do (except check out at 10 am :|) we were all content to be lazy. After breakfast we headed out to visit the two monuments in the village, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the statue of the Collie. Yes, that would be the dog. The church was tiny, but the view on the inside was one of a kind. I guess if you looked for a place to find peace, you wouldn't need to go any farther.The only other thing worth seeing was the observatory on the nearby Mt. John. (No, we didn't spare John :D.) But this time it was too far for us to even contemplate walking. So we drove :P. The views once again were, well... spectacular. But as I said, you could get used to even so much beauty :). One thing that did stand out was how Lake Alexandrina, while right next to Tekapo, was quite a normal blue! We didn't stay long to ponder however, the rain hastened out departure from Tekapo.Instead of the regular Highway One, we took the Inland Scenic Route towards Christchurch. A longer but quieter road, through pretty countrysides and sleepy towns and villages. For lunch we decided to stop at this completely out of the way place called Mt. Somers. There was only one food joint, but it was open, so in we went. After waiting rather apprehensively for a bit, we were treated to quite a fabulous spread! It was one of those places where you could tell people stared at out-of-towners. They travelled to the big cities infrequently, and whenever they did it made for a nice long conversation at the village bar cum restaurant cum cafe cum bottle shop :).

The first traffic signal we encountered on the outskirts of Christchurch caused quite an uproar. It was the first one since we'd left Invercargill a week ago :). From there on it went downhill. We were unsure where to go, which turns to take, got caught out by 'no left's and 'no right's all over the place, and even after we spotted the Base Backpackers right in the middle of the city, had to circle a few city blocks, twice, to find an empty parking spot!!Fortunately we managed to find some free parking thanks to the chaps at check-in, so having dumped the bags, we headed out again. (The parking was for only an hour.) We made for the beach and then down the extremely long spit. But once we actually got to the beach we figured why it finds no mention in the Lonely Planet :|.
We were well past 1500 km by then, and the 1000 mile mark beckoned :P. Off we went, to Lyttleton, the harbour town to the south. But by the time we arrived there, pretty much everything was shut. Not that there was a whole lot to begin with anyway, but I'd have fancied a look into Cafe Volcano :). We did manage to find the way to the Time Ball Tower (look it up, I haven't the energy to explain now :P).It was a genuine stroke of genius, however, when we chose to return to the city, not through the tunnel, but via the extremely spectacular Summit Road. We took our time, took in the scenery. All of Christchurch (and the spit) lay sprawled out beneath the hills on one side. And Lyttleton lay on the other. It was a fitting last drive out. We had to return the car the next morning.
The catch was, we had to return it with a full tank, as we'd picked it up. But it took us quite a while to find a fuel stop. More spinning around in the city. We tried really hard, I tell you, but the thousand miles eluded us :D.
By the time we got back to Base, having cleared everything out of the car (which had been the repository of at least half our gear through the trip), the Cathedral bells were tolling. It was Christmas Eve after all, and we were at Christchurch. Managed to sneak into one of the few restaurants still open. Just in time too, they hung up the 'closed' sign even before our food was on the table!

(was) Feeling: completely washed out :)
Listening to: Norah Jones - Until the end

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