Where I’ve Been: Christchurch, Akaroa, Kaikoura in New Zealand
Where I’ve Stayed: Vagabonds in Christchurch, Bon Accord Backpackers in Akaroa and Albatross Backpackers in Kaikoura.
I was a bit concerned about doing the Kiwi Bus as I’d heard it had a reputation of being a party bus and I thought that I, at the age of 30, might feel slightly out of place and old – I was totally wrong. Yes it is to some extent a party bus, but I’ve actually seen some amazing parts of New Zealand I probably would not have other seen otherwise as the drivers all have a great knowledge of the country. I’ve also made some fantastic friends and have some fantastic memories that will live with me for the rest of my life.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post Rach and I arrived in Christchurch on Saturday (24 April) and by the time our six hour journey from Queenstown ended my hangover was just dissipating! A couple of hours later Leon and Michelle, my friends from home, arrived at the same hostel as we’d arranged to stay in the same place.
Christchurch, with a population of 390,000 is the largest city by far on the South Island, more than treble the population of Dunedin – the next biggest city. It is also the third biggest city in New Zealand after Auckland and Wellington.
Leon, Michelle, Rach and I visited the Canterbury Museum on our first full day there, which is free and really interesting. The museum celebrates New Zealand’s mainly celebrates cultural heritage and is quite enlightening, one of my favourite parts were the old fashion streets you can step down – with houses and shops right out of the early 20th century – so much time and effort has been put into it you can almost imagine what it was like to be around then. Oh and we also got to sit on a penny farthing!
Then we wandered into the main square and saw some street performers, most notable of whom was ‘Hefty Jack’, who entertained us all with his ‘big Finish’ (a big box of Finish washing powder).
Good friend, Goodbye
So on Monday (26 April) I said goodbye to Rach as she left to head home, which was sad as we’d become quite close and then the following day (27 April) I said goodbye to Leon and Michelle (temporarily but almost permanently) as I left to head to Akaroa – a small town on the Bank Peninsula, which is about 50 miles South-East of Christchurch.
It was recommended to me by Ben and Mary and I am glad I went. I spent two nights there and it was sleepy even by New Zealand standards! I stayed in a tiny hostel called ‘Bon Accord Backpackers’ which was really cosy and spent most of my two days there just wandering around taking in the lovely scenery.
On the Banks Peninsula
Akaroa was the country’s first French settlement and it still has a really French feel with very colonial architecture. Being on a peninsula it has the added benefit of being on a beautiful bay and harbour.
On my second and final day in Akaroa I wondered to a neighbouring town (in fact it was so small it probably can’t be called that) called Onuku. It is so nice to be able to walk around on the roads and only see pretty much one car every ten minutes! I love the peace and quiet, it is so relaxing and a great chance to think about all I have done so far, where I have been and the people I have met. I’ve now been away over seven months and I can safely say I love being a backpacker.
Later that evening I went decided to go to the cinema in Akaroa to watch ‘Boy’ – a New Zealand film, set in New Zealand about a young boy reuniting with his absentee criminal father. The film was excellent, but the real star of the show was the cinema!
It was tiny – with two screens, I was in the larger screen and it seated 40 people! It had big leather seats, fantastic picture quality, great sound, it is also licensed and has a lovely cafe serving soups, pastries, teas, coffees, etc, etc. I really didn’t expect to find such a gem of a cinema in a tiny town (Akaroa’s population is just over 600) and it was welcome surprise.
A brief stop in Kaikoura
After Akaroa I had one night back in Christchurch, when I said goodbye to Leon and Michelle again and then I moved onto Kaikoura, where I am now. Kaikoura is known as the wildlife centre of New Zealand, as whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, albatross and more all live on or pass by the town.
I arrived quite late on Friday night (30 April) in Kaikoura so didn’t have chance to do much, but yesterday did the Peninsula walk which is very scenic and I saw some seals, black clouds had been hovering all day and just as I got back it started to absolutely pour down, so it was a case of good timing!
And on again…
So now I am in Kaikoura waiting for my bus to Renwick in the world famous Marlborough wine region. The plan there is to hire a bike and cycle round the numerous wineries getting free tasting, can’t wait!