Before we left Christchurch we visited the Canterbury museum with Damon. It was the most random museum we have ever seen with cool stuff like a VR Air New Zealand experience, a 60’s shopping street and a Paua house. We dropped Damon off at the airport and went to Kaikoura. The road to the place, hit by an earthquake on the 14th of November, was shocking to see. Mud and stone slips on the side and broken/bent guardrails marking the edge of the road. Also the train track was destroyed by mud, stones and wood covering the track and parts moved half a meter to the side. The rain pouring that moment participated to a depressing image of the aftermath.
Time to explore Kaikoura. The small village had many souvenir shops and we had a lot of fun walking in in every shop till lunchtime. This was the moment where Miriam noticed a flat tire!! Luckily we had Matthew, a man we met yesterday, who walked into us and offered a hand. He changed our tire and we went to the garage, which was luckily on the opposite side of the street. The moment we paid, the salesman warned us about the weather forecast. Cyclone Cook from Australia, already causing floods on the Northern Island, was heading our way. This meant it would be a rough night in a tent and a high possibility of being stuck in Kaikoura for an unknown time. We threw everything in the car and got out of there as soon as we could, back to safe Vagabond. When we arrived there again, we caused a lot of surprised but happy faces. After dinner we were talking about our Easter brunch with Mario and suddenly realised that the shops would be closed for the next day. So we rushed to the supermarket at 21.30. With all our Easter preparations done, we were looking forward to our weekend in Akaroa with Mario.
We have already had some trouble with Maps.Me but where he send us now was truly an interesting choice. On a foggy, narrow, winding road where rivers were crossing, we worked our way up to Akaroa. The road however, was nothing compared to the campsite we ended up. Onuku was one big adventure. We had to climb hills with sheep, cross rivers and fight a goose to get to our beds. On a small hike to the Lookout Rock, we could look over Akaroa Harbour at sunset. However, this meant we had to do a slippery and soppy hike back in the dark. Adventurous. Back on our campsite we created some atmosphere by lighting the fire and playing Donkey and Werewolves with a group of 9. The evening was completed by everyone singing along with Louis’ guitar songs.
It was the perfect day for an Easter brunch, although it wasn’t Easter yet. Mirte was making pancakes in the crappiest pan ever and Miriam was heating up hot cross buns au bain-marie since the oven wasn’t working either (got to get creative as a backpacker). Furthermore we had boiled eggs and crackers with brie! It was super delicious! After we were satisfied, we went to the farmers market in Akaroa with Lilli and Louis. It was small and cute with a French touch. The way back was quite adventurous, since the car was tiny. We crammed 5 people and a surfboard in there which made it unsure if we would actually reach the top of the hill. The car did it (go Echo!) and then we did a bay view walk where we were able to see the Lookout Rock from yesterday above us. Once again we had to keep up the pace so we would return before dark. We made an extra tasty dinner. Our homemade hamburgers with a classy glass of wine were amazing! We also got to taste some real German liquor ‘Berliner Luft’ which reminded us of ‘Wilhelmina Pepermunt’. An extra guest joined us: the Pacific Gecko from New Zealand.
Because we had some leftovers, we could have a real Easter breakfast this morning. This time it consisted of ‘egg-in-a-hole’ by Mirte, apple cinnamon muffins, hot cross buns and ‘egg-fried-bread’ by Mario. We said goodbye to Lilli and Louis who recommended an interesting walk in Little River. So we did and we walked through an abandoned China Town, which was build for a scene from the movie ‘The Stolen’. Afterwards we went to the ‘Giant Swing’ nearby, which was made up off some ropes and an old tire. We all had a go and it gave us a beautiful view over the valley! Then we went back to Christchurch, as a matter of fact: Vagabond. For the second time we got to see their surprised faces. For our last evening with Mario (and maybe because the supermarkets were closed ;)), we went for a fancy dinner to the bad neighbourhood fish & chips shop. Some guys wanted to watch the movie ‘Split’ after dinner. We thought it would be fun to watch, little did we know…
Time to say goodbye to Mario, but we didn’t leave before we made some amazingly artistic sale signs for his car. Then we left to Arthur’s Pass. To be able to go here, we waited for good weather for so long and it finally was! Our first stop was in Castle Hill, where we climbed and scrambled up the rock formations. The drive on to Arthur’s Pass was beautiful! The nature was indescribable, but let’s try. We saw enormous mountains with snow on top, contrasting against the bright blue sky, a big clear lake, surrounded by large, yellow trees and huge orange, yellow and green surfaces. At the DOC we asked for some information about the campsites and found out that there were mice plagues at the free campsites. So instead we chose for the risk of sandflies (you can see Miriam’s sandfly warriorwear) and Kea’s (which could terrorise our tent) at the DOC campsite.
It was a cold night and even in the morning we were shivering in the car. Once we drove away from the clouds the temperature rose and we saw a bright blue sky. Our journey to Takaka was 6,5 hours, so it was around afternoon when we finally arrived at Annie’s Nirvana Lodge, where we put up our tent.
Love Miriam & Mirte