[NZ Day 3] Kaikoura / Christchurch
This morning, we visit the Maori Leap Caves, a small cavern within a hill with an interesting story behind it. Our tour guide discusses the build-up of stalagmites and stalactites that have existed for hundreds of years, despite plenty of earthquake activity within the area (apparently the surrounding limestone walls absorb tremors). From here, we set off for Christchurch to celebrate our New Year’s Eve…
I’m proud of myself for driving most of the stretch from Kaikoura to Christchurch… though only a couple of hours, it’s hilly, windy and coastal (very similar to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road) and tests my concentration. Also, our hire car is a lot bigger (and wider) than what I’m used to driving, so there’s a decent learning curve there. We swap over on Christchurch’s outer suburbs, so I can direct Matt in via the map (I’m not a big fan of city driving). Good choice, as Christchurch’s CBD is full of confusing one-way streets – which Matt is used to driving, seeing as though that’s what Hobart is based upon.
First impressions? Christchurch is a quiet, modern garden city, filled with a variety of foods from all over the globe. The South Island’s capital, it is home to wide, open spaces, artworks and sculptures. It seems to be flatter than most of the other places we’ve visited in NZ so far, but by no means any less pretty.
Our accommodation is at the Grand Chancellor Hotel (which we paid less than it many sound!) and we’re given a free upgrade on New Year’s Eve, which proves to be fantastic. We’re on the 25th floor, an apartment one level below the penthouse and with fantastic views of the city… seriously, it’s great!
We spend our New Year’s Eve eating at a Bangladeshi restaurant (which is kind of inspired by Indian cuisine) late into the evening, and wandering into the City Square to listen to live music that’s playing. There’s a decent crowd there (a mix of people of all ages), but as Australians we’re in the minority. Funnily enough, the band covers a Cold Chisel song close to midnight and we start cheering (simply because of the Aussie-ness, neither of us are really fans), which goes to show how deep patriotism can run when in a foreign country! ;)
Poised in great position for the midnight fireworks show, and it’s as if the sky is lit up just for us. Hues of green, red, yellow and pink surround the city and we ring in the New Year with camera lenses glued to our eye sockets, unsurprising given the sights. Afterwards, it’s a merry couple of blocks back to the hotel, where there are amusing attempts to capture the cityscape and a soft bed to collapse into. It isn’t too late a night, as tomorrow we’re making the seven-hour drive from Christchurch to Queenstown, where we plan on spending the next four days.
This post also brings to a close TWO full years of Project 365/366!
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