This post is long overdue - I'm really sorry, but I have been pretty terrible at keeping this blog. So here's me trying to catch up.
On Friday August 22, I caught the 8 AM Atomic Shuttle bus to Christchurch which left from the Railway Station, and which I came somewhat close to missing due to the desire to sleep an extra 10 minutes or so because I stayed up ridiculously late out with friends the night before. My ride consisted of that strange mix of excitement and exhaustion that leaves you unable to sleep, but really wishing you could, and absolutely no leg room as I had to sit next to someone and Atomic Shuttles are pretty cramped anyway. However, I was able to enjoy the scenery but almost too tired to take pictures of it. I did get this in Timaru:
I finally arrived in downtown Christchurch after a chocolate-chip-muffin break in Oamaru and Vidhi picked me up. Driving to her farm in Rangiora, we had the sort of awkward conversation any adult and extremely-tired twenty-year-old would have when said twenty-year-old is coming to live with them for a little under a week. Finally we arrived at Ancova Farm, a lovely tree-filled property almost entirely surrounded by other farms, most of them containing cows. I was ushered to my room - in the stable - and shown around, meeting the animals, and eating some lunch. There were 2 dogs - Rocky and Tika; 3 cats: Big Puss, Oscar, and Milo; lots of chooks [chickens]; one goat (Gabby); one sheep (Lambie/Georgie); one cow (Sarah Jane); and 11 horses: Bergie (Haflinger stallion), Piccalo (Welsh stallion), Mollie (mini), Ted (30 year old ex-grand-prix showjumper), Rianna (Haflinger mare), Lainey (NZ Riding Pony young mare), Flick (NZ Riding Pony mare), Bella (paint mare with only one tiny white spot and a blue eye), Fred (NZ Riding Pony yearling colt), Florrie (NZ Riding Pony yearling filly and full sis of Fred), and Albert (Haflinger yearling colt).
Oscar and Big Puss
That night I just did some feeding, and watched movies with Bianca, Vidhi's 16 year old daughter who had just had a dental operation (ouch). The second day I helped do the morning feeding, groomed the yearlings, rode around the roads with Bianca (I rode Bella, she rode Ted who is actually quite feisty), did some mucking out, and groomed Lainey. Monday and Tuesday it rained, Wednesday it was overcast and still too wet for much of anything. My job changed to one of mostly sweeping, cleaning tack, and feeding the animals. It was still a good time, the family was nice, they were excellent cooks and fed me a lot of food, they liked Flight of the Conchords. It was relaxing, a beautiful area, and great to be around animals for a while. I am so happy I did it, and also happy I invested in gumboots [rainboots] beforehand. I actually miss the Marshalls now, and the farm and all the horses, and the food. I wish I had stayed a bit longer, because I really liked them but tended to be pretty quiet until near the end of my stay. Also, their house was more or less my dream house: a small but open log cabin with huge windows and a very cosy atmosphere.
A reason to love the Marshalls' house.
Thursday it was lovely out but it was time for me to move on. Vidhi took me into Rangiora so I could take the bus into Christchurch. The bus cost $5, and I sat awkwardly surrounded by all my luggage taking up approximately 4 seats. I got into the city and checked into the YHA. I immediately liked the YHA, it was clean and had great facilities. I then went out in search of lunch, and ended up getting a chicken sandwich from a really great little bakery. I then walked around the city and meanwhile discovered that Amy and her sister would be there that night. I walked through the Botanical Gardens and checked out the Canterbury Museum. I went into the cathedral as well. I kind of fell in love with the city, and did souvenir shopping as well. Maybe it was the warm, spring-like air, or the chocolate peppermint ice cream I ate, or the guy juggling in Cathedral Square, but I was completely hooked by the end of my wanderings. I then had dinner at Burger Wisconsin, feeding my terrible addiction to those kind of burger places, which are all approximately the same, and can be found in any New Zealand city of decent size. At least they're delicious. I read the book I found in the hostel book exchange, Oil by Upton Sinclair, until it was time to meet with Amy and her sister at their hostel around the corner. We talked for a while, but I had to get up to catch a bus to Picton at 7 so I had to call it a night.
giant chess board in Cathedral Square
I was somehow a bit less exhausted for the bus in the morning than I had been the previous Friday, despite getting less sleep. I was able to enjoy the rugged Pacific shoreline and take lots of pictures of it. Here's one:
We stopped in Kaikoura for a 30 minute break, and I wandered around and ate a bagel. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure that's going to be my only experience in Kaikoura: I'd love to go there and whale watch, but it doesn't look like it will work out.
Finally I arrived in Picton (on a very empty bus, by the way, with tons of everything room) and found Jane and Daryl and Jack and Ally and it was the start of the Abel Tasman weekend. We loaded into the van and drove to Nelson to pick up Becky and Karin and the Auckland girls. Then on to Motueka for groceries. Then Marahau for our accomodation, The Barn. There were cool Māori carvings nearby that we checked out, such as this one:
We also checked out the nearby beach, which started to recede with the tide at an alarming rate.
We then went in and were served gigantic amounts of pesto pasta and garlic bread by Jane. Delicious!
The next morning we were up early and on the water taxi. It showed us Split Apple Rock (the name should be abundantly clear in just one second).
We also went by the Tonga Island seal colony.
We were dropped off on a lovely beach and then hiked to another beach and had lunch. Then we continued on until some of us did the low tide track and some the high tide. I had the distinct pleasure of walking barefoot through small amounts of freezing water and over pointy shells on the low tide track. No one knows why we decided to go barefoot. Anyway, we ended up on a beach near where our accommodation for the night was anchored. It was this boat:
It is known as an 'aquapackers.' They served us a lovely barbeque and we slept in tiny bunks in a dark hole down below. Well, I thought they were cosy.
The next morning we got up to kayak back to Marahau. Unfortunately it was raining and cold. This didn't seem to register with me as a problem until a little while kayaking. It was cold... and raining... and kind of miserable. Also I'm not used to having to match my stroke to another person's, but Karin and I made a pretty good team. Anyway, we were nearly frozen by the time we got back, and soaked, so we stripped in the parking lot and put on some dry clothes. We went immediately back to Nelson where I got out of the van to go home with Becky and Karin, and Gavin, Austin, and Hannah.
So, it was 6 people in a 5 person car for an 11 hour drive. AWESOME! Gavin and I shared one seat for most of the time, we took turns sitting in the floor. Bear in mind Gavin is some six feet tall... anyway, yes it was cramped, but it saved me time and money. Austin managed to fit all the luggage in the trunk and also drove the entire way. There was some angriness going on, but we tried to be positive. We got back to Dunedin at 2 in the morning. I say, awesome mid-semester break!!!
Cramped in the car