Sunday, February 19, 2012

Day 11: Dunedin to Christchurch. Escape from Dunedin

We got going early after using a pay phone (they still exist) to call to the Intercity bus line to learn a bus to christchurch had just left, but that there was another leaving at 12:50. We shoved the wet tent (it had rained through the night) into our panniers and ate a quick bite of yogurt and the last of our muslei and pedaled into town, First stop, the iSite. The woman there was great and after calling a few more car rental companies that were already closed by the time we rolled into town last night and finding no cars, she lined us up with tickets on the bus. Next was lodging in Christchurch. I was not going to make that mistake again! After calling 5 or 6 places with no vacancy and me growing more and more nervous of a Dunedin repeat, we found a B&B close to the bus station and downtown. Then we called the bike shop and arranged for a late exchange of our rental bikes, since we wouldn't be getting in to Chch until 7 pm. Things were falling into place.


So we had a few hours to kill before our bus left. It was raining on and off and we had not had coffee yet, so we went to a coffee shop called Mash for coffee and scones,


and a front row seat to see and hear a bagpipe band pipe in the Harley parade. Serendipitous bonus.




I should mention that my Achillies tendons are feeling pretty good, and I have been able to ride at about 80%. But we are still both suffering from the sand fly bites incurred mostly on day 7 - that's 3 days ago. These bloody little bites don't itch much right away, but oh how they itch later. I must have really itched this one or had a bad reaction or something. Drew is even worse shape. Some of his bites have blisters. The 100% deet repellent didn't work.


We then wandered down to the farmers market at the train depot. The depot is an absolutely stunning building. The black stone is basalt quarried near one of the little towns we rode through on the rail trail.


The inside is beautiful too.


The farmers market was quite large and busy. There are slight differences in the English spoken here and American English. We had seen courgettes on menus, and eaten them somewhere along the way, but we finally learned what they are: summer squash.


A nice farmer took pity on me in my wet clothes and handful of coins and sold me two apples and a tomato for $0.50. That was the best deal in New Zealand. It left us enough cash to buy a loaf of sourdough bread and a hot meat pie.


I had a few minutes to walk around town after depositing Drew and the bikes at the bus station. There are many nice buildings in Dunedin.



This one full of chocolate! World headquarters for Cadbury, I think.


Being the National Pipeband Championships, there were bagpipers on literally every downtown street. That sounded cool.

Finally it was time to escape from Dunedin on the 6 hour bus ride


through the forested hills around Dunedin and along the east coast. The bus stopped for lunch at the company owned tea house, or cafe, in Omaru. I was all full of sourdough bread and fruit from the farmers market, but Drew had the most disgusting soft serve ice cream cone in the world. Kiwis love their ice cream. The ice cream section of the supermarket is twice as big as ours in America and every little convenience store, no matter how tiny, has a freezer chest stocked full of every kind of ice cream treat imaginable. Drew had been so good up until now about not pigging out on his favorite food. This ice cream cone was a Big Disappointment.

We walked around the Oamaru, which means White Stone in Maori. There were many gorgeous buildings like this church made of the beautiful stone.

The route took us through the famous Canterbury Plains.

We arrived in Chch around 7 pm and pedaled our trusty bikes for the last time to the Grange B&B.


The Grange is very much in the area affected by the earthquakes, and on learning that the building was built in 1874 and is therefore now the oldest building in Christchurch still intact, I was not super keen on staying there. But the owner explained that this house survived the shaking because it is wood framed and sheet roofed. Plus, we would be staying in the new motel part out back.



Which was lovely and came with a small kitchen, our own bath, and 6 pillows on the bed for $150.




This part was quite new and did feel very safe. So safe in fact, that I was hoping for a small quake. I am a geologist, I live in one of the most tectonically active regions in the country, I have traveled to many tectonically active areas, and I still have not felt an earthquake. Or at least one I didn't sleep through. When we were in Chch two weeks ago, nothing. Even though they have had over 8000 aftershocks in the last year and a half. Then, the night after we left, they had a 4 point something trembler. My timing sucks.


We were both starving and in need of a real meal, so we wandered out into the destructed town to find a restaurant that was open. We found a nice little Thai place that had made a makeshift seating area outside while the inside of their restaurant got upgraded. The food was great and the beer too.

Then back to our motel for a pleasant night of watching the first TV in a couple of weeks.





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