Wanaka Baby

Posted by Spalding Hurst

April 16, 2004

After leaving Picton I headed back to Christchurch with Justin.  Along the way I gave him a crash course on how to drive a stick shift.  He did all right.  Everything is on the opposite side here, so that could have made it more difficult to learn.  Even doors on places open in the opposite direction.  I can’t count how many times I have tried pulling on a door to get it open while a bunch of kiwis looked at me in wonder.  When you flush the toilet it turns in the opposite direction as well.

So we arrive in Christchurch.  It’s a Friday.  Good Friday.  Christchurch has a huge beautiful church in the town center.  And since we were around at the time the Friday night mass was beginning we stepped in to check it out.  Old and beautiful was the church.  Good singers that  night.  But they don’t have anything on St. Joseph’s cathedral.

For some reason all the hostels are being booked full.  My guess is the incoming foreign exchange students in Australia going on their spring breaks.  Most of these kids are American.  So due to the difficult nature of finding accommodation in Christchurch, we moved on.  Further south to Timaru.

Not much happened in Timaru.  Nice place, boring place.  We did meet a really nice older couple at the hostel there.  The guy had the funniest story about a trip to New Orleans in the 50’s.  You will have to hear him tell it.

Dunedin came next.  Awesome town.  Got drunk with the people at our hostel and the caretaker at the pool hall under the place, while mixing that with visits to the local museum and seeing the historic city.  Scottish influences all around that place.  I met the first person from Kentucky here.  A Louisvillian no less.  The weather was crap.  Rainy and cold, so I had to buy a big jacket.  It has Valvoline Racing on it.  Cool heh?

After two nights in Dunedin, we spent to two nights in Queenstown.  Queenstown is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  Ever.  It seems that each place that I visit becomes the new favorite.  But Queenstown will be hard to top.

This is a party town for sure.  Lots of tourist attractions like Bungy jumping and paragliding.  All the extreme stuff.  Plus they have tons of bars and even two casinos.  I went to one casino.  I lost no money.  I never made it to the tables.

Next came Wanaka.  Many wild stories to be told about this place too.  It seems lately that I have traded away early mornings and outdoor adventure for late nights of tasting the local brews.  Tui, sucks.  Montieths, good.  Speights, king of beers.  Steinlager, worst.  Makers is hard to find, but they do have it.  Everyone has Jim Beam.  Everyone gets those Vodka and Red Bulls, just like home.

Wanaka is on the lake just like Queenstown.  They call it the smaller version of it.  They have the most amazing movie theater here.  Lounge chairs and couches for chairs.  Even a car with comfortable seats in it.  They make the best homemade cookies.  Someone needs to open a place like this up in Louisville.  I saw the movie Cold Mountain.  Very good.  Made me miss home for a bit.  They have an intermission during the movie.

My car is starting to suck.  It over heats on hills.  It will die soon.  I know it.  But it has gotten me all this way.

Right now we are 20km away from Mount Cook.  Four of us are doing a trek around the mountain tomorrow.  The view from here is incredible.  The view from the top of Mt. Olivia will be even better.

Right now here is our crew:  Justin, Sam from North Carolina, James from Devin, England and me.  Tomorrow we climb.

This the Lighthouse at Castlepoint.  Justin took this photo.  We sat at the top of the cliff the night before with a six pack of beer and tried name our high school graduating class.  We couldn’t remember them all. 

This is the scary ass swinging bridge.  It’s the longest of it’s kind in New Zealand.  I had already crossed this thing when kayaking here before.  This was Justin’s first crossing.

This is Christchurch Cathedral in Christchurch.  The Good Friday mass was held here.

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