New Zealand, 2009-12-03

We shuttle over to the airport in the morning, heading out of Australia and over to New Zealand.  The security screenings are uneventful and reasonable — you can wear your shoes.

I fall asleep on the plane with my mouth open, and Lanaea nudges me telling me I’m “eating air.”  In my stupor, I inform her that “it’s delicious.”  Such are the things that I say when half-asleep that makes here want to start a website called “stuffmyboyfriendssayswhileasleep.com”.

It’s a bit chillier in Christchurch than Melbourne, but not overly so.  We pick up our rental car, a Nissan Sunny that beeps when you reverse, and whose exterior betrays the 8K odometer reading.  I think it rolled over.

The hostel isn’t too hard to find, and we drop off our bags in most spartan of hostels we’ve seen yet.  The walls are thin, footsteps down the hallways sound like sumo on the ceiling, and there is nothing in the room save a rickety double bed — no stool, or nightstand, or trashcan, or coat hook — and strangely enough, a framed photo of a flower on the wall that looks as if it just escaped the 1970s.

It’s an odd time of day, early afternoon on a Thursday in a town that’s not overly large, and notice that most of the restaurants are closed for the period between lunch and dinner.  We end up the only customers in a Mexican joint, of all places, and settle into our first New Zealand meal of nachos.  Not what we expected, but the emptiness of the place imparted a somewhat ethereal feel to the start of our new country.

Shortly afterward we run into Nat and Jordan wandering around downtown Christchurch, and Jordan and I opt to have some “guy time” at a pub while the girls window shop.  We end up and Bourbon Street, where once again we were the only patrons.  The bartender, Matt, is friendly, easygoing, and funny, and gets a kick out of us referring to Speight’s Ale as “Pride of the South,” as the banner of the tap proclaims.  As the night progresses, the girls meet up with us at the bar and characters upon characters start collecting at the bar.

There’s the English Chancellor and his wife who won’t tell us their names for security purposes, but regale us with travel tales of Iceland (highly recommended) and Machu Picchu (says it’s too touristy now), among other locations.  There Warrick from Gore, New Zealand, a teacher up on vacation, relating how the truly south of the South Island live.  There’s a 23 year old kid and his girlfriend, the former of which is positively blasted and trying to convince use he’s 40.  And Ken, a master carpenter from Denver who’s just got back from a stint at the McMurdo station in Antarctica — who claims that the rumors of rampant sexual activities among the denizens, to pass the lonely cold months, are true.

The drinking goes late, all trading stories and recommendations, and on the way out we meet an extremely friendly punk that builds his own custom cycles.  Big, behemoths of cycles, using engines from trucks.  He offerred us a ride on his 302ci custom, but somehow, conversation derailed, and we ended up walking back to the hostel.

302ci custom

302ci Christchurch Custom


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