One more week down, and I’m struggling to find a way to glue all of this week into a comprehensive post. From my first day in Christchurch, this week has dashed by due to my constant jumping from one activity to another in an whirlwind attempt to do as much as I could, whether it was exploring or trying to make my dorm feel a little bit like home. I already feel like I’ve been here forever–an excellent sign.
The first two days of this week were filled with a healthy combination of free food, too many indecisive runs to the unfamiliar aisles of the grocery store, and mandatory school activities that I touched on briefly last time. Tuesday was tedious–I stood in line for too long to confirm my classes and give the school money. The evening, however, was the opposite and I’ll leave it at that.
Halfway through the week I managed to make it to Christchurch proper with some friends, with the bus system only confusing us once. I’d say campus and my dorm is about a 20 bus ride to the city so it isn’t bad. I got my metrocard, so I feel like a proper rider of public transportation.
It’s easy to tell that Christchurch is still in recovery from the 2011 earthquake. There’s hardly a corner without a building walled in by construction and cranes sprout up across the horizon. That first day roamed the city, a massive wall of smoke from the Port Hills fire also loomed like an omen on the horizon.
A unique part of Christchurch is the Re:Start mall, a shopping center constructed from colorful shipping containers. It’s filled with cute shops and great food stalls that scream of new life–I definitely plan on trying all of them. One of the places sold burgers filled with different meats and though I didn’t get one, someone got a kangaroo burger and offered it around. It wasn’t bad, a little gamey, but I wouldn’t order it myself. I had a quesadilla.
Best part was the post-wandering mini kayak adventure. Someone knew of a small place to rent kayaks out on the Avon River (more like an amplified creek running through the city) so we all hopped in, remembering our sunscreen of course. I did tandem and it took me a while to remember how to be a good rudder. Most of the time it was due to distraction by baby birds (who moved too fast for a decent picture).
After kayaking, we stopped by Hagley Park and their beautiful, expansive gardens. I might have to take the bus here to go for a run, as running in circles around the nearby sports field isn’t cutting it right now.
Aside from the local stuff, we did get out of Christchurch. I went with a few friends to check out Diamond Harbor, but I would call it the first adventure that was simply a venture. Unlike what Facebook makes it seem like, it’s not sunshine and butterflies all the time. Sometimes it’s a constant drizzle and blind wandering for that hike you heard about. Lyttleton and Diamond Harbor (across the bay from Lyttleton) were cute towns, but we didn’t find the right place to go and according to the barista at the hip cafe we took shelter in, we needed to come on the weekend. I was ready for a hike with great views, but sometimes life refuses to act in your favor, even on the little things. I did try my first New Zealand pie and had a great chai latte, so overall the venture wasn’t a true dud.
These expectations are a dangerous thing. The next day, I went out to Arthur’s Pass with the same people with the expectation for a big hike, but ended up taking a road trip up and down the pass. It was a fantastic day with mountains all around me, but just thinking about how no one was prepared for a trek almost ruined it for me.
So I embraced the short waterfall hike and the views of a pretty picturesque bridge. I consider myself pretty flexible, and this first adventure showed me how important flexibility is relative to the level of a good time you will have. Also, it helps when you stop along the way for really good pie. (According to the kiwi I was with, Sheffield Pie Shop is the best place to get ’em)
Another of our stops for the day was Castle Hill, an impressive scattering of limestone boulders that I’ve been meaning to ask my geologist flatmates how they got there. I was pretty pumped because I thought the final battle in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was filmed there, but it turns out it was the nearby Flock Hill (which is private property, so Castle Hill sufficed). Yet the site itself was filled with Narnia-vibes and I could have stayed there all day climbing rocks. After that was our venture to Arthur’s Pass and some fine New Zealand Mountains.
I plan on taking another trip to Arthur’s Pass, so I’ll take some better pictures of the mountains when I’m not stuck in the middle seat.
Anyway, school started yesterday. After my two month hiatus, it feels a little bit strange to have commitments (especially when there’s a whole country to explore). Yet, I figure it won’t take long for me to feel like I was never out of school and counting down the days to my April break. I’m two days in so I can’t make any judgements, but I’m curious to see how a semester compares to my quarter system, which hits the ground running and doesn’t slow down. Vacation may be over, but I still plan on putting my weekends to good use.
Cheating today and throwing in a Narnia quote:
“Let us go on and take the adventure that shall fall to us.”
– The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis