Friday, 31 August 2012

From Coast to Coast

For mid-semester break the infamous English Rob and I teamed up with two amazing Kiwis (Jess and Ben) that were more than happy to show us tourists around the South Island. They had planned on doing a train ride from Christchurch (East coast) to Greymouth (West coast) for the holiday. Fortunately they didn't mind us hooligans tagging along for the adventure.
Moeraki Boulders

Our journey started Saturday August 25th leaving Dunedin at 7:30am heading towards Christchurch. The dreadful 4.5 hour car ride in Ben's car that could maybe fit three people comfortably (we had 5) was eased through the multiple stops along the way. Our first stop was at the Moeraki Boulders just outside of Dunedin. They're massive spherical boulders that were formed on the ocean floor millions of years ago that now sit on the coastline from the erosion (as the Kiwis say it was Buzzay!). We then stopped at the Rakaia Salmon for a pit-stop. Rob and I tried to climb it, but we weren't successful. At the next stop, I made the worst decision that I have made since being in New Zealand. Both Rob and I each bought a 1kg bag of cookies from the Cookie Time Factory. Ben bought 8Kg but was smart enough not to open any bags during the trip, Rob and I on the  other hand weren't so lucky...

Seemed like a good idea
Climbing the Salmon

Christchurch Shops

We finally made it to Christchurch and spent the rest of the day travelling around the city. Ben was so excited to show us Littleton Tunnel which is the largest driving tunnel in New Zealand (I guess tunnels are a big thing here), we stopped at Sumner beach  and then went to the city center for lunch. We had lunch at the Red Zone in Christchurch (shops that were made out of storage containers). The city is still in ruins after the earthquake that happened in February 2011, so it was interesting to see the city center today. Ben's Grandma's Sister was more than happy to let us four stay the night. She had a homemade stew for tea waiting for us when we arrived (tea = dinner... very weird). It was an early night, as usual we watched the rugby game (New Zealand beat Australia so it was a good win!) and headed off to bed.
Rebuilding the City
Ben's Grandmas Sisters House!

Waiting for the Train

Sunday was an early morning wake up call but it was worth it with breakfast already made for us! We took the Transalpine Train that left the Darfeild station at 9am heading towards Greymouth. Only an hour onto the train I had already lost my wallet; what a great start to the adventure... The 4 hour train ride was a lot of fun though, traveling through some amazing places (Apparently we went through some spots where Lord of the Rings was filmed). The train only stopped in two towns Springfield which unfortunately had no relation to the Simpsons, and Arthur's Pass where I ended up taking photos for half the train in front of the Arthur's Pass sign... I guess they thought I was the freaking photographer for that stop.

Ben's parents met us in Greymouth, and took us to the Speights Ale house for lunch. I had my first New Zealand pie! Which is very important because they are a Kiwi favourite. Ben's amazing parents paid for our lunch and gave us a car to travel around in for the rest of the time being on the West coast. You couldn't ask for anything better! Such amazing people.

Feeding the Eels
Our first stop on the West coast was a little town called Hokitika (say that 10 times fast) saw the beach their and went to a Kiwi Bird center. We got to feed 2m long eels that where around 100 years old, they where disgusting. Rob and Ben forced me to feed them... Afterwards we got to see the Kiwi Bird! They're endangered and nocturnal so its very difficult to see one in nature. Leaving the Kiwi center we traveled up the West coastal roads towards Westport; stopping at Punakaiki for the pancake rocks. It started to rain so I literally ran the trail taking quick snapshots of random rocks! We reached Westport where Ben's parents have another house! After watching a terrible movie, it was another early night.

Monday morning Rob and I got up and went to the grocery store. Went the complete wrong way and got lost in the town that literally has two main roads... We had to ask someone how to get to the store. Our first stop that morning was where the Tasman Sea meets the Buller River. From there we traveled up the Karamea and stopped on the beach for lunch. We saw the Limestone caves (went barefoot Kiwi style for that one) and got lost in the caves with only a little torch light between Rob and I. Thank goodness for the glow-worms. Heading out, Ben let me drive the right handed manual diesel truck around the parking lot, seeing how there where no other cars around (Highlight of the trip! haha) That night we had Westports best Fish and Chips and both Rob and I had both officially finished our 1Kg bags of Cookie Time (I'm not sure to be proud or disgusted by this).
Half the road is missing...

Kiwi As

I SPY - A Seal

Tuesday was our "Lazy Day" which consisted of eating pies, drinking beer, and enjoying the sun! We traveled to a Seal colony and saw the Denniston lookout that overlooks the coatline along Westport. On the way back home we stopped at the super market for more Speights (of course) and I drove home! Must have been less than a kilometer down one road but is just crazy driving from the right side of a car on the left side of the road! That night we all planned to experience the West coast pub life but none of us made it out of the house. Guess I'll never know how the pubs are on the west side...
Long way from home

Wednesday we cleaned up the house and had to catch a bus from Westport back down to Greymouth (In town Rob bought another case of Speights for the bus/train rides). We took the Inner-city bus to Greymouth, had the lunch of champions: Subway and boarded the train. Our first thoughts were to crack a beer which was definitely not a smart choice by the way the conductor explained to us not to open any more. And if we didn't cause enough trouble Rob couldn't find his train ticket and I'm not sure if they were serious or just didn't like us but apparently we would've had to get off the train if he couldn't find it... I was up for the adventure! We met some crazy Australians on the train that gave us some pointers for our January Australia trip! (Basically warned us about the saltwater crocs, snakes, and jellyfish - Can't wait!). We spent Wednesday night at Ben's Grandma's sisters again with just the best hospitality. I left my wallet there, thank goodness.

We took off from Christchurch Thursday morning, stopped at Cookie Time again (felt so sick going in there, it will be a long time before I eat another cookie) and took the Inland Scenic route. We stopped at a river where Rob and I went swimming. Little did we know the river was flowing from a glacier, so it was the coldest swim of my life!

Asides from the Cookie Time, the worst part of this trip was making it back to my empty messy flat back in Dunedin. With only half the mid-semester break done, I now have time to get some work done, plan some trips and burn off the 1kg of Cookie Time.

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