Canterbury

Sheep, construction, rain, and grassy hills.

I just summarized this entire post for you so you don’t need to continue reading. You’re welcome. 

BUT if you’ve decided to keep reading I suppose you can have some details. The last week and half was spent in Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass, and Castle Hill.

After almost getting blown away with the wind in Mt. Cook I arrived in Christchurch with 90 degree weather waiting for me. YES. The first night I arrived I went on a walk to check out the city before dark and there was a common theme, construction.

  
You see, Christchurch had a huge earthquake in 2010 and another in 2011. This has left the city in rebuild mode for the last 5 years. The atmosphere of the city is a bit interesting. I decided I needed to actually look up things so that I wouldn’t keep getting stuck in construction road blocks. As I was walking some people hollered at me and waved me over. I though eh, what the heck I’ll see what they want.

They waved me in their front yard. A Kiwi and Scottish guy lived there and an English girl was in the yard as well as a Malaysian guy. They invited me to have a drink and I politely declined but they insisted on at least taking photos. They held up Lucy (stuffed animal giraffe) and a photo session took place. 

  
The 60ish year old Malaysian man, Peter (there is no way that’s his actual name) kept saying I looked like a princess and was trying to take my photo and asking for photos with me. When he went for a kiss on the cheek I decided I should exit the yard quick as I started to get uncomfortable. 

The next day I went to a different hostel which was actually the old jail. It’s pretty awesome. The rooms are the old jail cells and they have preserved a couple of the rooms with the drawings from inmates and old bunks. The feeling is a bit eerie. 

  
I decided to check out “The South Island’s Biggest Market” because I love farmers markets. This required multiple bus transfers and when I arrived I was taken aback. I felt like I was at an outdoor thrift shop.. It was so interesting. It was not the type of market I was expecting whatsoever. It’s funny, so many places have “American” sections. This market had a tent that was full of all American cereals and candy. Goodness.. I could make a fortune if I just smuggled a couple hundred boxes of lucky charms in huh?

Anyways, I got back to the city and decided I should check out the city with purpose. I walked to the Re-start mall which is a mall made entirely out of old shipping containers. Pretty neat. While walking an old woman on a bike said “Move aside you ‘insert bad word'” which I was completely on my side of the walkway AND she was supposed to be on the road. 

Some construction workers heard the woman and they laughed and said “wow, looks like someone is having a moment..” I couldn’t help but laugh. That’s sort of the moment when I decided I wasn’t so sure I liked Christchurch all that much.

Later on I went to an incredible art museum. The variety of style within the museum kept me interested. 

  
My favorite piece was of course the one made entirely of sugar. 

  
The rest of the day was spent wandering and then relaxing in jail. The next day I walked around the city again. I went to the Cardboard Cathedral which is an absolutely beautiful structure.

  
 I happened to get there when an organ performance was taking place and an elderly man outside invited me. It was breathtaking.

  
I then went to the monument “185 White Chairs” which is a memorial to those who died in the earthquake. I’m telling you, it’s sorta sad in Christchurch. Can’t help but think about the suffering there. BUT… If you’re looking for a job in construction that’s the place for you because you can help rebuild the city.

  
The next day I did something crazy and sent a post card. (Lol at anyone who understands this sentence… You know who you are) – sorry if you didn’t get it.

Continuing on, I decided to take the Tranz Alpine train to Arthur’s Pass. I hopped on early in the morning and for the next couple of hours watched as the beautiful rolling hills passed by out the window. It was a bit foggy at times but absolutely worth the journey. I arrived in Arthur’s Pass before noon and headed to my hostel.

  
The department of conservation warned me that a storm was coming in so if I wanted to do anything I better do it quick. I took their advice I got on the trail to Punch Bowl Waterfall. After a couple of ups and downs and too many stairs I arrived at the waterfall. It was absolutely beautiful.

  
An older couple arrived right after me and asked me to take their photo. The woman noticed my jacket and asked if I worked for KPMG. She was an accounting professor at a university in Indiana and said she is constantly trying to place her students at KPMG. It started to rain so I headed back to the village. 

  
Arthur’s Pass is tiny. It’s smaller than Mt. Cook which I actually didn’t think was possible. My hostel there was fairly quiet and I spent most of my time just re-reading my book. (Calm down, I got a new book. I’ll stop re-reading the alchemist)

That night while FaceTimeing my parents and watching water shoot off the mountain in the storm a scary man kept walking by me. He just had an odd feeling around him. I jokes to my parents about it but told them not to worry because he wasn’t in my room. Jokes on me. When I walked in to go to bed guess who I almost bumped into? Scary guy. As I went to bed I was a bit anxious but eventually fell asleep. 

I woke up the next morning and it was still storming outside. As I rolled over I almost had a heart attack. The scary guy was sitting up in bed just staring at me. You know how when you catch someone staring they usually look away fast? Well he didn’t. He just kept staring. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten up so fast. By the way this guy is like 60 or 70 probably. 

The whole day it was storming out so I didn’t get to do some of the big hikes I was hoping for but don’t worry, I took advantage of the weather and went puddle jumping and lots of walks in the rain. Love that feeling. I think everyone else thought they might melt because the hostel was full of people hiding out from the rain. 

Scary guy was scary for the remainer of my stay but I’m alive so that’s good news.

WARNING: this next part includes hitchhiking stories that my mom would not approve of. (Sorry mom) 

The next day my plan was to hitch hike to Castle Hill to climb and then camp out. I started early in the morning and literally zero cars passed for like the first half hour. Finally an old guy pulled over and he looked safe so I got in. He was like 75 and so funny. He was apparently headed to drop of the car he was driving at a friends on the east coast. This guy was full of stories, I swear I heard his whole life story in the next hour. He was obsessed with the caterpillar equipment so we had a nice chat about my dad. Eventually we got to Castle Hill village and he let me out. He gave me “the best coffee he’s ever had” which was instant Starbucks hahaha. 

   

 
I headed off in the village and immediately realized I made a mistake. I had gone too far. I decided I would just spend the next hour walking back the way I came to get to the campsite. Ugh.

As I was walking will my million pound bag a guy pulled over and offered me a ride. He didn’t speak English very well so the first 20 words we were both confused and I ended up throwing my bag in the car and hopping in. He was a French construction worker heading to the west coast. He took me to the campsite and I trekked in to find a place to set up. 

I’m so indecisive. I got into camp and realized I should climb first just in case I was out long I didn’t just wanna leave all my stuff. So, off I went to trek to some climbing spots. While walking a woman pulled over and gave me a ride just up the road. I wasn’t going far but she insisted. 

I got to a place that people Boulder and wandered around a bit. I ended up meeting some people who invited me to join and I spent the day bouldering in the most amazing place on earth. (Narnia was filmed there)

  
After hours and hours of bouldering I realized I should just go back to Christchurch because I had to catch an early bus so it would be smarter to hitch hike then rather than the next morning. Right as I got to the road a guy pulled over and I got in. Another French guy. He took me part way before he had to turn off. As soon as I got out a car pulled over. It was the same woman as before.

She happened to also be heading to Christchurch and gave me a ride. She was so generous and offered me her business card and said if I ever needed anything while in New Zealand to give her a call and she would help in any way she could. 

  
I arrived safe and sound in Christchurch. And now the last couple days in New Zealand are to be continued…

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