Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Impressions of New Zealand (Christchurch to Nelson)

New Zealand now brings one word to mind: scenery. Ok, three words: scenery & freezing cold! Beautiful scenery, teeny tiny towns, mountains, hills, trees, and so many lakes. Traveling the backpacker route via Kiwi Experience, the hop-on, hop-off bus, we are off on a three week adventure. Rakhi, Cherry (my surf camp friend from Byron Bay!) and I are following the South Island backpacker trail. Despite my recent shopping spree on winter clothing, I am still shivering---surprising how much I've acclimatized to Singapore's 30 degree celsius over the last 9 months!

Christchurch: The South Island's largest city, this teeny bit of land, full of unpopulated streets and little nightlife, marked the beginning of my small town culture shock. Somehow I had imagined New Zealand to be a colder, more snowy and less busy version of Australia. While the accents are similar, the towns remind me a bit of the Gilmore Girls---cute for a few days, a great break from reality, but somehow impossible to live with for longer periods of time. A cute city, one of the few I've visited this past week with an actual shopping mall.

Kaikoura: Normally a surfing town in the summer, our one cold winter day in this town proved to be more than enough. Too cold to even swim with the dolphins (all tours cancelled), we took the hostel's dog for a walk, wandered the bars for a night and hopped on the bus to the next mini-town.

Westport: The next day we sat on a jetboat for an hour, a tame adventure...the best part of our day was warming up by the hostel's fireplace!

Lake Manihupua: A backpacker party stop in the middle of nowhere, this night proved to be tons of fun. We stopped in Greymouth (you guessed it, another teeny town!) at Warehouse, a Walmart look-alike, to get "binbags" (garbage bags) and design our costumes. Cherry dressed as a scuba diver, Rakhi was a penguin and I was a snowman. You should have seen the costumes that came from a few hours in a tiny town, and a few multi-coloured bin bags!

Nelson: High hopes for a "city" in Nelson didn't really pan out...although the wine tasting and flavour shots en route were fun!

So where are the pictures of this beautiful scenery, you ask? No doubt by now you loyal blog-followers are a bit tired of my slideshows :-). It's the best way to get the picture though, so I'll split them into a couple shows for my next entry so you can enjoy the view, not to mention our past couple days on a glacier(stay tuned!!!). Parts of it remind me of Canada and the Rockies...great window watching for the road trip anyway!

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