(~Bing Bong~ Please return to your seats as we resume the rest of the show. Ok! Now that we are back home and have fully recovered from some jet lag, I’ll go ahead and start making the posts about our adventures throughout New Zealand! Here goes!)
The plane ride over from Sydney wasn’t terribly long, but it was longer than I thought it was going to be. For some reason I thought New Zealand was a bit closer to Australia, but the flight was about 5 hours long. No big, the flight was actually really cool. We flew with Emirates and they had free drinks and some fancy meal which wasn’t half bad! They also had huge screens on the back of every seat and a big movie selection, so Steve and I watched Toy Story 3! Any who, we got a little taste of luxury before heading straight back into travel mode in NZ. We flew into the city of Christchurch and got our shuttle to take us to the rental car place.
The rental car company we went with was recommended to us from Joe whom we met on the Mike Ball excursion. The place was small and quaint and the owner there was really nice. He filled us in on some places to go and things to see, ran over the car details with us, etc. The car we rented was a little Nissan hatch back thing that could have the back seat folded down, a wooden board laid out, and two narrow mattress pads laid out on top of that with sheets and duvets to keep us warm! It also came with a small awning to attach to the back door while it was open, a portable gas stove with mini gas cans, table and chairs, dishes and pots and pans for two, and curtains for the windows for privacy! I knew right away after looking at this car, which would end up being our home away from home for the next two weeks, that this leg of our trip was going to be a blast. We waved goodbye and then I began driving to get some petrol at a nearby station…it took a good hour or so of driving before I was used to driving on the left hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the right. It was pretty nerve wracking at first, but after that initial drive out toward Akaroa (about 2 hours away from Christchurch) I felt really confident about driving in NZ.
We started the drive out east toward Akaroa and were immediately enthralled by the landscapes of the country…and we hadn’t seen anything yet! There were tons of sheep grazing on green rolling hills and the further away we got from the city, the more beautiful it became. As soon as we got about halfway to Akaroa the straight roadways turned into an inclining windy mountain path which was fun to drive on my first day. Just after reaching the high point of the windy road we saw the most amazingly beautiful picture perfect landscape of the Akaroa Harbor and all the bays that surrounded it. It was awesome. This was the beginning of me pulling over a lot throughout the trip to snap a few photos of the landscapes.
We finally arrived at the Akaroa Holiday Park just as it was getting dark and began to set up camp. We were told that since New Zealand is further south in the southern hemisphere, it stays light out longer during the day. The further south in the country you went, the longer the light stayed out in the summer. It would typically stay light out anywhere until 9-11pm depending on where we were. It was a bit deceiving as you would think it was only about dinner time when the sun was setting but it was actually closer to 10pm! We had a late dinner of steak and salad on our portable grill after we set up the car for the night and got a good nights rest to begin our first excursion in New Zealand the following day. Tomorrow we will be swimming with the endangered hector dolphins of New Zealand!