Monday, March 1, 2010

New Zealand 2010: Wellington to Christchurch (Sunday, February 21)

Written at the International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport at 5:15 pm (Los Angeles time) on Monday, February 22

Sunday was our other big travel day.  We got up at 6:30 am (yawn!) to catch the Interislander sea ferry to Picton on the South Island.  This was a huge ferry, I would guess 5-6 times the size of the ones on Puget Sound.  (I’ve been on a sea ferry before, on a European tour bus in May 1980, from London to The Hague.  Don’t remember anything about it.)

We had breakfast on board.  I had the “full breakfast”, with middle bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs (light on the egg, I think, since they were very pale), grilled tomatoes, and toast.  Among the packages of butter and jam were ones of Vegemite.  Yes, I took one.  Yes, I opened it and put a finger in to taste it.  Yes, I put the rest on toast.  Yes, I survived the experience.

Frankly, it’s overrated.  If you think it’s fabulous, it’s not.  If you think it’s the foulest thing ever, it’s not that, either.  It tastes of yeast and salt and not much else.  I doubt I’ll ever have it again.  (My mother, on the other hand, is not a brave soul when it comes to some foods, although she is fine with others.  This was on her “No way” list.  Even though she’s never tried it, I couldn’t get her to even dab a bit on her finger and taste it.  Chicken.)

I sacked out for half of the 3-hour trip.  When we got back to the car, there had been major amounts of sea spray over the bow, and our car was all but encrusted with rime.  Window fluid got most of the front window cleared.

I drove us about 45 minutes, to Seddon, where we stopped at the SuperValue market for food.  I got a (beef) curry pie and a 1.5 liter bottle of L&P (Lemon & Paeroa, originally a lemon-flavored spring water from the town of Paeroa, but now a Coca-Cola product).  I wanted a smaller bottle, but the 1.5 liter was half the price of the chilled 600 ml bottle.

Mom drove to Kaikoura, and then I took over again.  After an hour or so, when we stopped in another tiny town (Spye, maybe?), a guy pulled up the space next to me and began reading me the riot act about being a lousy driver — holding back traffic (are you actually doing that when you’re travelling the speed limit?), not pulling aside when there was a passing lane, and veering over the center line and almost causing an accident.  (This last I’ll cop to.  Driving curvy mountain roads when you’re tired is a bad idea, and I was way tired.)  Of course, his whole spiel would have made me more contrite if, in his haste to jump out and read my beads, he had managed to put his car in park rather than reverse, having to jump back in to prevent it rolling into traffic, and he then moved it back forward with the door wide open and almost ran it into our car.  Frankly, I think he was mostly pissed about having had to drive through graveled construction areas in his Bentley behind someone else, getting pelted with small rocks.

We found our hotel in Christchurch (Bealey’s Hotel) without effort, and ate at the Speight’s Ale House at the hotel.  (I had a black cherry cream cheese-stuffed chicken breast.)  We decided not to go sightseeing that night.

Updated on March 11, 2010

Updated on June 8, 2010
Moved part of this post to the Sounds Kinky-er blog:
Updated on June 9, 2010
Added links.
Added travel map.

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