We’re back at the same holiday park in Christchurch where we spent our first night in the country. It feels a little bit like coming home, full circle, end of trip. It feels familiar after two months of unfamiliarity. We chose this park two months ago because it was 3km from the airport. This time around, we chose it because it was 5km from a wildlife sanctuary that had kiwi birds.
It feels good to be back here, a fitting end to the trip, even though we still have two days to explore Christchurch. It feels like we accomplished what we set out to do, which was to ride bikes, go hiking, eat good food, and meet neat people, and see a kiwi bird, which we got to do today. Anything extra that we see or do in Christchurch is just frosting on what was a delicious cake of two months in NZ.
Yesterday morning started as I described in the previous blog post – with the realization that we’d gotten off by a day and now had two and a half days in Lake Tekapo, which would have been great if it was sunny and beach weather, but it wasn’t. It was also at 2,000 feet, which meant that nights were cold.
So we altered our Master Plan by altering our bus ticket by 24 hours. Let’s spend a day in Christchurch and go see the botanical gardens, and kiwi birds, and the big cathedral. Let’s do something completely out of the norm for us, let’s be city people for a day!
Lucky for us, they’d only had the more expensive ‘flex fares’ left when we’d bought our bus tickets, so we could change them for free. Yay for paying an idiot tax? I guess?
We pulled the classic dirtbag move in bad weather of hanging out in a coffee shop/restaurant and continually ordering more small things to keep our presence acceptable. As late as 7:30, we went all in and bought a full-on dinner to buy us another of hour next to the fire. It was worth every penny.
It was a 10 minute ride to free camping, and we found ourselves a secluded spot in the pines. It felt just like Colorado camping.
We returned to the same coffee shop in the morning to wait for our bus. Like I said, free and unlimited internet, you have our business.
As we waited to board the bus, bikes in pieces and tied up nice and small, we ended up talking to a Danish couple who’d just arrived. We gave them a bunch of places to see, places to eat, and I gave them my Good-Bye Sandfly bug repellant. Yes, we told them, they are as bad as they’re made out to be.
It felt good to be able to pass on advice on camping, the cycle trails, and different roads and places to avoid.
The bus ride was painless. The driver was funny. I’m going to miss Kiwi humor. He didn’t charge us extra for the bikes, which means four more flat whites in our budget. Or two more flat whites with scones. I’m going to miss flat whites and cheese scones.
We got off the bus at the airport, not because we’re flying out now, but because it was the nearest stop to the wildlife sanctuary that had Kiwi birds. While we’ve heard them in the wild, seeing one in the wild is amazingly hard to do…and we really wanted to see a Kiwi.
The sanctuary was awesome! They had all sorts of birds, wallabies, rare pig and chicken breeds, donkeys, keas, and of course, kiwis.
Since they are nocturnal birds, they had them in a dark enclosure lit by red lights. We watched two of them foraging and being territorial for a while. What a goofy, goofy bird.
I’m super glad we got to see them.
And then, back to the holiday park that we knew. The kitchens been remodeled, but otherwise, it’s the same music playing, same airplanes flying overhead, same random mishmash of people, but this time including other cyclotourists. It’s good to be back.