March 12, 2014
Fenella drove us to Oamaru in standard kiwi fast speed, not hesitating for curves and zooming past other motorists, probably tourists. Yan survived his bouncy ride in the back of the truck. First she dropped Madeline off at her school, St. Kevin’s. Madeline just started secondary school there at the beginning of secondary. Fenella rejoiced that she is getting better at dropping Madeline off on time and with later and later starts from home. We were next to be dropped off at the bus stop then Fenella was driving the “Frenchies” to the edge of town to hitch hike to Dunedin. It was sad to say good-bye.
Our humourous knowledgeable bus driver provided commentary on our journey. He pointed out when we crossed the 45th parallel, placing us closer to the equator again rather than Antarctica. He told us about the meaning of Maori place names, facts about the seven hydroelectric projects on the Waitaki River, introduction of wallabies…a pest like the possums…although they bring in a few tourist dollars. They are very destructive for farmers. We stopped in Waimate, the best place for strawberries, to pick up a passenger. It used to have several sawmills but a fire cleared out the forests and shut down the mills and the town.
The drive to Christchurch on Route 1 has been the busiest road we have seen in New Zealand, especially going north from Timaru. It is also the straightest, travelling mostly between pastureland being irrigated, passing herds of dairy cows and some flocks of sheep, a few potato fields, corn fields and swede fields. Nothing too exciting. The Southern Alps are visible in the distance when not disappearing in clouds.
A wide load headed south held us up on the highway for thirteen minutes. This meant a shortened stop at Timaru, not the half hour forecast. We descended for a washroom break and to stretch our legs in the sunshine. Saw a bronze sculpture of a bearded worker in front of black stone Speight’s Ale House. T-shirt weather again. 21 C.
We crossed the Rakaia Bridge, at 1700 metres, the longest in New Zealand. When it was built in 1936, it was the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. Right now there is not much water in the river. It must look quite different in winter.
When we arrived in Hornby on the southwest fringe of Christchurch at 1:45 PM, we decided it would be a waste of time to go downtown only to come back out for our airport transfer. Everyone has told us that there is very little to see in Christchurch since the September 2010 earthquake.
So we have had a lamb burger at the airport, checked our bags, browsed the shops, gone for an outside walk and are now waiting for our 5 PM flight to Auckland.