web analytics

Final New Zealand post – the massive airport rewrite

My Dad has requested a final post from New Zealand, so I will try to sum up the last 3-4 weeks.

Around April 7th, after much resting, coffee drinking and foot-dragging, I left Te Anau. I had briefly considered making my way through Invercargill just to get a look at Burt Munro’s Indian, which is unceremoniously, and very appropriately, parked in a hardware store. But my desire to get my board fixed and find some surf outweighed the Indian. Straight to Dunedin, surf capital of the South Island, was the best bet. I also read they had a thing for coffee and used books stores over there. The decision practically made itself.

My surf guide only listed one surf shop, Quarry Surfboards in South Dunedin. I went by there with the board and talked to the young guy working the counter. It was the wednesday before Good Friday, when everyone and everything goes into deep hibernation for five days. The shaper wouldn’t even be back to get started on it until after the holiday. Thinking I had no choice, I left the board there and resigned myself to at least a week in Dunedin.

Right before going to the shop, I had emailed the other contact in the surf guide, a surfer’s accomodation called Villa Rustica that was listed without an address. Impatient, I didn’t wait around for a response. Later that day I got a response from the owner saying he “did the best board repairs in town.” He also had a name worthy of an iconic surf character – Rod Rust. The next day I retrieved my board from Quarry, and met Rod outside R and R Sports in Dunedin.

When I drove by looking for parking I spotted a fit-looking older guy with mad professor gray hair. He was holding a surfboard and chatting with a young guy. Even without the board in his hand, I would’ve guessed he was Rod. He certainly looked the part. There was something I liked about him immediately – his presence seemed serene and he spoke to me kindly, without arrogance. I knew my board would be in good hands.

Having tried out three hostels in three days, I was fed up with paying money for discomfort. I decided to try camping in my car – at least it would be private and quiet. The first night I did this, I had driven out to Tairoa Head on the Otago Peninsula which is north-east of Dunedin. There is an albatross colony out there on the top of a cliff. The colony centre costs $39 to go in, but you can see them from the carpark if you come in the late afternoon when the wind is blowing. There is a spectacular view out to sea, alongside a steep cliff. It was a while before I realized the vertical cliff sides were covered with shags, clinging flat up next to the earth, unconcernedly snoozing or grooming on precarious ledges. Looking far out over the ocean I saw birds flying and wondered if any of them were albatrosses. Ones that came closer I could tell were just gulls, but I wondered. I watched the bull kelp sway in the crashing waves and took out my camera to take a photo of a sail boat’s sails lit up by the setting sun. When I brought it down, an albatross was just flying over me. I gasped. It was huge! I had the unreal sense I had just seen a mythical being. When you see an albatross there really isn’t any mistaking it, and you don’t have to be a bird nerd to identify one. I watched it glide down and back up over the hill near the centre and around the cliff. A few seconds later, it (or another one) returned and gracefully slid above the heads of unwitting tourists walking down the path. I didn’t need to pay the $39 to go into the centre, that was more than enough to make me happy.

Earlier in the day I had spent a little time at Pilot’s Beach which is just down the hill from the colony. Hanging out with the seals. Watching them twist and turn in the water was mesmerizing. They mostly hang out on the rocks on the other side of a chain link fence erected to keep us snooping tourists out. Having had my fill of seal-watching I turned to walk back to the car. A loud coughing startled me and I turned to see a seal wiggling on a rock not five feet from me. Great camouflage – most of us had not noticed him. He eyed me lazily and went back to shifting around trying to find a comfortable position on the rocks, looking a lot like I must as I try to situate myself for bedtime on the back seat of my car. This one had obviously figured out we were harmless voyeurs. When I returned later that evening, he was still there, still mostly unnoticed by the trickle of tourists coming down to the little rocky beach. I decided to point it out to a family who was walking towards me. “Look – do you see the seal?” The woman thought I was pointing to the obvious seal rolling around just offshore and with a slightly irritated, do-you-think-i’m-blind tone said “Yeah..” and kept walking. Her partner saw what I meant and said to her “No, you don’t…” He pointed straight down and she gave a little startled intake of air when she finally saw him.

As the sun sets, right at the last moment of dying light, the blue penguins come back onshore to their nests. Another little fence was erected with instructions to stand quietly to watch and not to disturb them. Over the course of an hour of standing watching the sun set, a small group of people had gathered. Maybe around 15. It was nice to see so many people up for some simple, quiet nightly entertainment. But I wanted to throttle the three Japanese tourists to my right who would not shut up. My patience needed some practice, clearly. I am not necessarily a big talker, unless you catch me in a certain mood, and I will take silence over inane conversation any day. Especially after spending a decent amount of time by myself, I can be awed by some people’s ability to to talk about nothing for hours on end. I don’t say this in judgment, just an observation of a difference in temperment. I am sometimes very happy and even relieved to be around someone who has a lot of energy to talk, so I can just sit quietly and listen.

Just as I was feeling blind from staring into the last bits of gray luminence on the rocky beach, the silouette of a penguin appeared at the shore. In the adorably awkard way penguins have it stumbled and waddled, its flippers straight out to the sides for balance. Pretty soon he was joined by a companion and they made their way towards us. They disappeared in the darkness of the rocky and grassy dune before us. After waiting a while longer I figured even if more came I wouldn’t be able to see them. So I walked back up to the albatross carpark. I had seen one other blue penguin, alive and well in the sunlight, swimming in the Marlborough Sounds on the way back from the dolphin swim. So my first spotting of a blue penguin, dead on the beach, was supplanted by more lively memories.

I stayed in the carpark at the top of the hill because there were 4 other campervans dotted around, clearly set up to spend the night. Curled up on the back seat in my sleeping bag I was enormously relieved for the quiet and privacy. I shifted and woke throughout the night to change positions. The basic problem was a soreness in the hips from the constant curled position. But the soft seat and warmth and protection of the car, not to mention the quiet (did I mention the quiet?), outweighed any discomfort.

Immediately following this night, people I met in town started to invite me to stay. I spent two nights with a woman who lived in a communal-type building. Her bedroom was one room upstairs and she had a separate studio room with little kitchen downstairs. The first night I slept in my car in the secluded driveway, the second on a mat in the studio. When I met her, we had had an interesting talk in the coffeeshop about PTSD, which she suffers from following domestic trauma. Her anxiety level was clear – she was agitated and unwell, but we connected. I was especially interested in the subject of PTSD because my brother and a friend in New York both suffer from it. My transience on the road had made me fairly lonely and she seemed eager to latch on to someone, so a day or so of company suited us both. She was kind, though very difficult to be around for long, so I left after the second night.

I received an email from Rod on Monday saying that my board would probably be done the next day, so I asked him to text me when it was ready. That night I stayed with Sam and Annie, a middle-aged couple in Halfway Bush, which is a suburb not far north-west of Dunedin. They have a day care in their home and also foster children and host foreign exchange students. Annie’s son Bob was living with them as well and works as a car mechanic. They invited me to “tea” (which is what they call supper) and to sleep in their extra room. Their place was modest and it seemed they didn’t have much, but they were quite wonderful with the children and had a loving and comfortable home. I sat around late watching murder mysteries with Annie, which was very familiar. A sense of home was exactly what I had been missing.

Feeling antsy to get on my way, I drove up to Port Chalmers on Tuesday to have a look around even though I still hadn’t heard from Rod. It’s a small port town so I figured I could find Brailey’s Track, where Villa Rustica was, by just driving around. Having no luck I gave up and headed out to look for some of the surf beaches listed in my guide. On the way there, I came across Brailey’s Track. It was getting late in the afternoon and I thought my board might be ready. My pre-pay phone had run out of money, so I couldn’t call. I was apprehensive to just drop in, and almost turned back, but knocked on the door anyways. Rod came out with his mask on, obviously from his shop. “Your board’s not ready…” It was hard to read him without being able to see his face, and I thought he might have been annoyed. But he took me back to the shop to look at it. It was shaping up nice.

There didn’t seem to be anyone else around at his place, so I asked if he had room for the night. In an earlier email I had told him I was more of a camper than a B&B person and he said he might be able to accomodate me if I needed somewhere to stay. He had WWOOFer (stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms – for the unitiated that means you can stay and help with gardening etc. in exchange for free accomodation) quarters with a few beds. And also his son’s old room in a separate building down the hill. I chose that one – it had a nicer window and just one bed. All it needed was a quick vacuuming and to make up the bed. He would charge me $50/night. I immediately liked the place. The trees, birds and lookout over a secluded bay. The fact that there didn’t seem to be anyone else around also appealed to me greatly. I definitely wanted to stay.

The next morning, he lent me a board (9’4″ heavy beast) and took me surfing in St. Clair. I was in heaven – it had been maybe a month since I had surfed. The waves were decent, not huge, a good size for me to get back in the water after a break. I had intended to try to catch the left breaking towards the pool but wandered over to the area Rod was surfing with the bigger right-hand break. I caught a few, nothing astounding but was thoroughly pleased. Just being back in the water on a board is still enough to make me happy. But I only had on my unsealed 3/2 wetsuit and before long I was shivering. Once you start shivering, it’s very hard to stop. So I headed back in and grabbed the bottle of hot water from the back of Rod’s truck. A genius idea I will have to remember in the future – fill a plastic jug with steaming water before leaving and wrap it in bubble wrap or some sort of insulation. When you get out of the water after a cold surf, that water poured down the front of your suit is highly pleasurable.

Rod was not particularly talkative, and I tend to be reserved myself with new people. I can be a loudmouth when in the right mood and comfortable, but that often takes a warm-up period. Especially with someone like Rod, who I was ever-so-slightly intimidated by. But the silence between us wasn’t stressful or uncomfortable. I figured if he was uncomfortable he would talk, otherwise I wasn’t going to pester him with questions. He was certainly well-known and loved in town, many surfers waved to him and a few stopped to chat. He has been in his place since 1977 (the year I was born) and described himself to me as basically a surfer who has done some other things.

Later that day, Rod lent me a thicker 4/3 suit, booties and a hat and I headed off to surf again, this time by myself. I took the 9’4″ back into town and tried surfing at a different beach called Smails – St. Clair was really small and this one had looked better to me. But the waves ended up being pretty tricky and I couldn’t catch any. There was only one other guy out when I paddled out and I was joined by another after about half an hour. The second guy and I commisserated on the difficulty at some point. I have found a lot of surfers to be pretty friendly in the water here. If you smile and say g’day, you usually get a friendly response. Again, it was fun anyways. I have yet to regret getting in the water.

Each day I asked Rod if I could stay another night, until the third night he said, look, you don’t have to leave. His partner, Natalie, who had been out of town on business returned the second night. An English woman about my age, she had been in New Zealand for about three and a half years. She came to travel and stayed after meeting Rod.

They were expecting a young WWOOFer named Eva to hitchhike into town on Thursday. Coming back from surf Thursday afternoon, I decided to stop at the New World supermarket and pick up vegetables to cook dinner for everyone. It turns out that Rod and Natalie are vegetarians. AND they are into really good coffee. AND surfing. AND they grow apples and walnuts (a staple of my diet is apple, walnut and honey with plain yogurt). I couldn’t have dreamt up a more perfect place.

Outside the market, there was a young girl sitting alongside a large backpack. Evidently without transport. Port Chalmers is a small place, I wondered if this was Eva. I decided if she was still there when I came out I would ask her if she needed a ride somewhere. In the supermarket I realized I forgot to bring in my shopping bag. Not wanting to commit the sin of getting plastic bags, I walked back out to the car. As I did, i saw Natalie walking down the street towards the young backpacker. She waved at me then walked up to the backpacker and shook hands. My hunch was right. Natalie had walked down from Villa Rustica so I offered them both a ride back up after I finished shopping.

I kept planning to leave, but just didn’t really want to go. Rod asked me if I wanted to stay and WWOOF a bit with Eva. Some of the work was easier with two people. I said yes immediately – I wasn’t ready to leave yet. Up until that time, the plan had been to get all the way back up to Auckland and fly from there to Sydney. I already had that plane ticket. There were two main reasons I had decided this. One, because I hadn’t surfed yet anywhere on the south island and figured going back to Raglan and Piha would be nice. Secondly, Gavin in Auckland was my backup plan for the car, should I not be able to sell it. As it became clear that surf was great in Dunedin, and I had access to thicker wetsuit and booties and a comfy home-like place to stay, and people to surf with, I became less inclined to do all that driving north. I also asked Eva if she would want to take the car from me for the last month of her trip, sell it, then send me the money. She was enthusiastic about that plan. So I bought a plane ticket from Christchurch to Auckland and decided to stick around the South Island longer.

That afternoon we all went out surfing at an amazing right point break – Rod and Natalie’s favorite spot. There weren’t too many people out in the water and the sea was a bit choppy. It was about borderline surfable. AFter being out there a short while, I started to notice the offshore wind picking up. When I would turn my board to paddle for a wave, sometimes it would be blown back in my face. In what seemed like an instant, conditions changed and the offshore wind started blowing so hard it was spraying water off the tops of waves. When I asked later that night, Rod said the wind was probably blowing around 40 knots. The ocean turned into a choppy, unwieldy mess and we all turned for the long paddle back to shore into the wind. Rod had sussed out the situation before us and was already out of the water. The paddle in felt epic. There was no chance of catching a wave in, as everything was blown out. I was glad I wasn’t out there alone, as Natalie, Eva and I paddled together. When we got onshore the wind was blowing so hard I could barely hold onto my board, even less walk towards the car. Rod ran back down and took the fronts of both Natalie and my boards, while we held the back and marched them up to the shelter of the dunes where he had parked his car. Eva was a little behind us, so as we got close I passed my board onto them and ran back down to help her. A very memorable introduction to that spot.

The next day, the conditions weren’t great for surfing, so we worked all day. We started by gathering fallen juicing apples from one tree with Rod. Little green ones, they were perfect for the juicer. Next we moved on to the chicken pen where we were to cut away overgrowth around the apple and peach trees. With a small selection of rusty, unsharp cutting tools – sickles, sheers, machete and handsaw – we hacked away. It was slow going. Rod had gone off to do something, so we couldn’t ask about a sharpening stone. The chickens got very interested in our work and came up hovering around us. You could just reach down and pick them up and move them out of your way. They would even submit to petting, crouching and holding still as you stroked their feathers. I don’t think I had ever pet a chicken before. It was also pretty easy to fall into the habit of squawking back at them. a ridiculous call and response. We picked a few of the almost-ripe peaches from the tree and gathered up the bigger green baking and storing apples from the ground. Anything with a bruise or softening cut can’t be stored, so those are put aside for immediate use. One night Rod and Natalie baked up apples that had been cored and filled with currants, dark chocolate and honey, I think. Delicious! At some point we picked small pears from a tree near my room – these were gathered to be dried.

After a break for lunch, Rod went off to work on the seemingly endless stream of boards that arrive at Villa Rustica. There is only one other person in town who does repairs, but not as many, and not epoxy boards, so Rod gets most of the business. He used to shape his own and had a couple of wooden long boards resting against the wall in the living room. Beautiful boards, one of pristine white balsa striped with multiple redwood stringers and another shorter one made of varying shades of brown Macracarpa. Eva and I washed the apples we had picked and left them to dry on the dish racks in the kitchen. Then we sorted and boxed them up. Green apples for eating. Green apples for baking. Green apples for storing. Red and yellow apples to be eaten immediately. We had dinner started about the time Natalie arrived home from work at R and R.

The next day we spent surfing. Having lived and surfed in the area for 33 years, Rod was the best possible guide. There are a variety of breaks all around which work in different swell and wind directions. He keeps a close tab on weather using a variety of tools, old and new-fashioned. TV, internet and, of course, looking out the window or walking on to the verandah. The difference in temperature between a southerly and northerly wind is pretty dramatic. Northerlies are way warmer. Villa Rustica is perched on the northern slope of the hill overlooking the bay, so is mostly sheltered from the colder southerlies.

One day we drove up the hill to Rod’s walnut tree and gathered nuts. I enjoyed the methodical, meditative movements of searching and finding – the feeling of a direct physical connection to our hunter/gatherer ancestors. The satisying cracking noise of another nut being thrown in the bucket. I started to feel like I had an extra sense for finding them, and though with their dark brown coverings they were well hidden, I began to pick them out easily. The best part, though, was climbing the tree. It had been a long while since I had climbed one, but I have fond memories of climbing as a kid.
I suspect part of my attraction to my current job resides in the use of my monkey-like skills. But going up and down ladders isn’t quite as satisfying, as you might imagine. I filled both my pockets with nuts and climbed back down. In the end we had gathered a few boxes worth. I don’t know if I have ever had fresh walnuts before. You can crack them open easily with your hands and the nut itself is far less bitter than the kinds you buy in the store. Just like tomatoes straight off the vine they seem to be almost a different food from their supermarket cousins.

There was such a nice harmony and flow to life at Villa Rustica. Fruit and nut gathering and preparations interspersed with surfing and Rod’s board repairs. In the mornings, Rod would make sandwiches for Natalie to take to work. In the evenings, one of us would cook while Rod made a fire. Water was always on the verge of a boil for tea. Once (and occasionally twice) a day, someone who make espresso and foam soy milk for those that wanted “flat whites”. The endless stream of apples would be juiced with celery and carrot. Music might be played. Documentaries or rugby or Back to the Future watched at night. It felt almost like a home and it was nice to have a break from thinking and planning and searching for where I would spend the next night. As Rod would say to me later, it is really easy to settle in there.

When Eva planned to leave to head to Fiordland on Monday, it seemed right for me to leave, too. I still wanted to get north to Kaikoura. And stop through Christchurch to post some flyers and see if I could get any interest in my car. I had tentative plans to return to Port Chalmers to give the car to Eva if I couldn’t sell it. She was enthusiastic, so it seemed like a good plan. Then I could just take a bus back up to Christchurch to catch the plane to Auckland, to catch the plane to Sydney.

It took me a while to get anywhere close to Christchurch on Monday. The usual Beth driving story. Lots of stopping. I ended up driving almost all the way out to Akaroa, which Rick and Kerry had suggested as a nice quiet place. I camped in my car at a campsite with very clean and empty kitchen facilities. Didn’t spend long in Akaroa the next day, as I really wanted to get up to Kaikoura soon. Swinging through Christchurch I got some coffee first – I know my priorities. Then I printed out a flyer at an internet place and got 20 copies made at the post office, along with a little packet of thumbtacks. I parked the car and spent some time walking Christchurch posting flyers on the notice boards of hostels. Christchurch was actually nicer and more interesting than I had been expecting. The Avon is a beautiful, sleepy little river. There are interesting buildings and some trees whose leaves are changing, a rarity here it seems. I didn’t leave Christchurch until late in the afternoon.

Somewhere in the dark along the way I found a very basic camp site and spent another night in the car. I woke to ocean sounds and the camp manager knocking on my window asking for the camp fee. He was an older guy and very nice, almost embarassed to have woken me. He kept calling me “mate” and let me know there were hot showers in the toilet house. I skipped that and got back on the road.

Kaikoura is spectacular. Snow-capped mountains almost touching the sea. Rod said the peaks are as high as 7000 feet. I was back down to my 3/2 with no booties, but I paddled out at Mangamaunu anyways. There is a fun point break there, wrapping around to the right. I caught a few and lasted out in the water longer than I expected. I think I am getting used to cold water surfing. And actually kind of like it, shockingly enough. You warm up from paddling, and if you are suited correctly it really isn’t a problem. I chatted with a few people in the water, and paddled back out to shore after about an hour.

The next day there was almost no swell at Mangamaunu and farther down the beach looked far too steep and shallow for me. So I set into town to go on a whale-watching tour. I thought I might skip the touristy whale-watching, but realized that would be crazy. I don’t know what other time I might have the opportunity to see whales up close. Plus I love being out on the water in boats. The lack of swell meant the conditions for going out were ideal. Smooth sailing. After mechanical difficulties had us turn back around and board another boat, we were on our way with a whole new crew. The interesting thing about Kaikoura that makes for the abundant marine life is the fact that a shallow shelf drops off to an incredibly deep canyon underwater very near the shoreline. The shelf is about 150 meters down, than the deeper part is anywhere from 600 to 1500 meters.

This day, we were on the lookout for a sperm whale – the fourth largest whale. They spend about 45-60 minutes diving down to feed, then come up to breathe a short while before diving again. So patience is key. We were lucky enough to come upon this one whale just as he was at the surface. You see very little of them from a boat, since only about a third of their body length, from the blow hole to the sort of back fin, actually comes above water. Then as they dive down they kick their tail up out of the water. Since we kept a little distance from him, it was hard to get a real sense of his size. Still, it was a pretty memorable experience. He dove down giving us the perfect tail view, then we waited around for almost an hour for him to resurface. Another whale-watching boat caught up to us, as well as a coast guard boat. We all lolled around on the water while our captain kept dipping a listening device underwater to locate him by his clicking noises. When they begin to resurface, they become quiet again. It was a mostly clear, sunny day so we also got great views of the mountains from out on the water.

Back at the drop-off point, they refunded us 20 percent of the cost for the delays. Sweet deal.

I spent two nights camped along the beach near a break known as Meatworks. First night in the car, the second night I actually pitched my tent. I opened my flap in the morning and gazed out at the mountain range from my sleeping bag. No surf that morning either, so I went for a last coffee in town and headed back south to Christchurch. In Christchurch I went back to the hostel that had the friendliest staff member as I went around town posting flyers. I booked a bed in a dorm on April 27th, booked a shuttle in the morning to the airport that would take my 8 foot board, and stored my board and pack in their garage. Then I continued on towards Dunedin. Without really meaning to, I got to Dunedin that night. I just got in a driving mood, listening to a podcast and made it all the way there. I had told Rod I would be returning Saturday around 2 p.m. I texted to let him know I could come early in the morning if he wanted me to do some work in the orchards. No response from him, so I spent Saturday morning in Dunedin.

It was Anzac day. Yet another holiday in Dunedin! Not much was open, I went around town looking for a place to buy nice espresso grinds as a gift for Rod and Natalie. Governor’s, my favorite little cafe, was actually open so I went in there and had eggs benedict, a flat white and ordered up some grinds. They roast there own fair trade, organic coffee beans. It’s called, ominously, CIA. But the grinder wasn’t there that day so I would have to return for it the next. Fair enough. I washed and cleaned up my car and headed out to Villa Rustica.

Still hadn’t heard back from Eva about the car. The last email I got she was wavering on the idea. Knowing I was not going to dump the car on Rod and Natalie, I decided to offer it to Sam and Annie and ask that they send me half of whatever they made selling it. Bob being a mechanic I thought they would have a good chance of knowing what to do with it. Anyways, I would get almost nothing if I dumped it on a used car salesman. I would rather give it to someone who could use the money than basically give it away to someone I don’t know.

Sunday morning Rod and I surfed from 10:30 to 1:30 while Natalie was at work. He lent me the 9’4″ again since my board was in storage in Christchurch. The waves didn’t look great from the road, but turned out to be fairly fun. Most people climb out along the rocks and then jump off instead of paddling out. But with the big heavy 9’4″, and unsure of area, I opted for paddling out. The waves were breaking fairly wide at times and there was lots of white water to get through. Add to that some strong rips and it was a lot of work to get out. I had learned from Natalie to wait along the rocks patiently for a break and then paddle out as fast as you could. Sometimes you have to wait a while. My first try I got out without much problem. It was my best day out there, for sure. I caught a few good ones. But then I came too far in, got caught inside and had to catch some whitewater in and start all over paddling out. This time it took me forever and many tries to get back out again. I almost gave up on a few occasions. Eventually I did get back out. I caught when really steep wave that Rod saw, headed straight for a girl surfer who ditched her board and dove down. I was a bit wobbly but under control and steered around her. She smiled at me later and asked me if I got that wave and how was it. I laughed and said yes and apologized for scaring her.

The next time I had to come to shore I just couldn’t get back out again. As long as I would wait there never seemed to be a break where I could paddle out. Or I would begin to, some waves would come and crash before I could get over them and I would go flying back. I was just too tired to maneuver that big board and keep paddling. I gave a couple tries. Rested a while, tried again. Then just had to give up. The day was amazingly summery. I sat on the rocks in my bikini top with my suit around my waist. Didn’t need the hot water that day. A magical final day of surf for me.

I was very happy to get a couple more days at Villa Rustica. It was most definitely one of my favorite places in New Zealand. And now I am off on the next leg of the journey. Things will be a little more complicated and hassled traveling with my eight food board and no car. Rod grew up in Sydney so he gave me a couple ideas of where to go that I could stay within walking distance of surf beaches. I am booked at a hostel tomorrow night near the center of the city. Hopefully everything will go smoothely. I have a layover in Auckland from 11am to 6pm. Gavin may come out to say hello and goodbye if he can get a break from work.

I am sad about leaving New Zealand, but also looking forward to getting back to my own bed. I think I will really make an effort to get a garden going in my concrete backyard. Some sort of fence would be a good start, to give us a little privacy from the constantly barking pit bull to one side and the splashing pool to the other. Who knows. I may just return to my itinerant bike ways. I have such a hard time hanging out at my own home.

It’s a very balmy, slightly rainy evening in Christchurch and I am sitting outside Charlie B’s backpackers using up the last bits of my internet. Just by accident I bought one month’s worth of internet access on IAC wifi spots EXACTLY one month ago. So it runs out tomorrow as I get on a plane for Australia. I like it when things work out like that. A lot of this trip has been just like that, it seems. But that just might be a matter of perspective.

wordpress visitor counter


  1. Absolutely totally excited to have you back posting. I have throughly enjoyed following you on your trip, thanks for taking me along. Have been rereading some of your posts and enjoying them a second and third time. Looking forward to the upcoming ones. Loving ya, Mom

  2. Bird nerd request

    This bird nerd would LOVE a photo of the albatross! You are probably in the middle of your trip home now. Hope you’re sleeping well. 🙂
    Love, Kerry

  3. Re: Bird nerd request

    I didn’t get a photo of the albatross, alas. My camera is just not really made for action/sports/flying bird shots. So I just stared and committed it to memory. In lieu of my own photo (which is non-existent), here is one that a very cool German guy, Dan, I met on the Milford Track, took:

    Here is his flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pie4dan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.