New Zealand- Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 377 (187)

Christchurch

Sunday 20th March (2005)

The clocks went back an hour here in New Zealand last night so that was another blissful extra hour in bed this morning. It should be quite evident by now that I’m not a morning person at all. Sandy, however, is very much a morning person and was long since up and about before me today. It makes me wonder which of our daily body clock traits our child will inherit. Indeed, I've been wondering more and more just what sort of a person our unborn child will turn out to be. In a departing voice message on my cell phone, Tony in Australia told me that as long as this child has Sandy’s strength and my heart, he or she would do very well. That brought a tear to my eye at the time and I feel myself welling up a bit now just thinking about it. I’m a sentimental old fool at heart really. That reminds me, it’s about time I added a bit more to my unborn child’s diary tonight.

I’ve been singularly unsuccessful in finding a decently priced rental car for Wellington so with seemingly no further options to consider, I bit the bullet this morning and went ahead and called the bigger agencies. The cheapest of those was Budget at NZ$53 (€30,74) per day but at least they had a car for us so I went ahead and made the booking. Curiously, they didn’t ask for my credit card number so I at least have the opportunity to find a cheaper alternative between now and Tuesday.

We enjoy travelling immensely but it has to be said that I do enjoy having nothing to do on occasion and I was more than happy to just mull around the house this morning. Naturally, however, we could only do this for so long before boredom got the better of us both and we decided to try our luck at the Canterbury Museum here in town. It isn’t that far from the hostel but we took the car just in case it was closed and we ended up travelling farther afield to find something to occupy our time. For a Sunday afternoon, there seemed to be an awful lot of cars occupying all the street parking spots near the park but we were fortuitous enough to find a place to park. On the way to the museum, we stumbled onto the reason there were so many cars around; something of a summer fete was in full swing in the park so we detoured ourselves over there to take a look for ourselves. It suddenly felt like I was back in England as a kid when I would go to summer fetes from time to time. Lots of stalls with local businesses selling their wares or advertising their products; the St. John’s Ambulance service tucked away in one corner; the local fire brigade with one of their highly polished fire engines showing passers-by what makes it tick and the armed services advertising their way of life to potential recruits. There was also a stage set up in the middle of it all where the local theatre and dance company were putting on a show for the public. Just about the only give-away that this was not England was the traditionally uniformed college kids walking around in their very similar uniforms of long socks, short trousers and a striped blazer. Uniformed students often attend schools and colleges in England but there is just something about the way these students were dressed that simply shouted New Zealand.

We amused ourselves at the summer fete for an hour or so before continuing on to the museum just up the road. As museums go, this one is quite a good one with dozens of exhibit sections with a very wide range of interests represented. I was amazed at just how often we would turn a corner and find ourselves yet again in the midst of a completely new section with a whole new range of paraphernalia to pique our interest. I was particularly impressed with the bird exhibit, which displayed birds of just about every conceivable sort that might be found in New Zealand, native, introduced, migratory or otherwise. They were all neatly sorted into categories and were neatly labelled with all sorts of useful information. We’ve been to a fair few museums on our travels and those of the Republic of Ireland have been particularly decent but I would give this one a ten out of ten for sure.

We both find that walking around a museum can be a very tiring ordeal after a while and even with a few stops along the way to simply sit and rest, we both felt that we were quite ready for the exit by the time we made it through the last section. Just opposite the museum is one of the main drags here in Christchurch and we wandered over to mingle with the crowds walking around the artisan’s market place. This particular section of town houses numerous art galleries and today there was apparently something of an art exhibition in full swing with lots of the college buildings having what looked like an open day for the general public to come in off the streets and enjoy all the different forms of art that the numerous local artists had to offer. Street artists and comedians completed the picture and made for a very interesting stroll around the city. Nestled between one of the college campuses were a number of street food vendors with styles of street food on offer ranging from Khmer, Thai and Chinese to Japanese, Greek and Lebanese. The city’s tourist tram passed us by a couple of times throughout the afternoon but we didn’t bother to buy a NZ$12,50 (€7,25) ticket each for the twenty-minute loop.

On our way back to the house, we stopped off at one of the banks from which we can make ATM withdrawals from our American bank without incurring a fee and once again withdrew our daily limit of NZ$800 (€464). We’ll probably do this another couple of times before we attempt to convert it all into US Dollars.

Ever since China and Thailand, we‘ve been toting a couple of dozen or more DVDs. Amongst these is the third in the series of The Lord Of The Rings – The Return Of The King. Since the entire trilogy was filmed right here in New Zealand, we thought it fitting to finally sit and watch the three-hour epic and so that’s what we did with the rest of our afternoon. It was quite an emotional ending.

We pondered what to do about dinner and toyed with the idea of going out to eat at a restaurant. Doing so would cost us anywhere between NZ$50 (€29) and NZ$60 (€34,80) and we really need to be taking advantage of the fact that we are in our own house with cooking facilities. We are, after all, trying to maintain a backpacker level of spending. Accordingly, we went out to a nearby supermarket instead to pick up a few things. Sandy whipped us up some lovely roast chicken and potatoes.

It’s my Mum’s birthday today and so we walked over to the main hostel building this evening (morning their time) to call to wish her a happy birthday. We’ve now accumulated several different kids of calling cards and it took us a while to figure out which one to use to make the call but we got there in the end. Mum and Dad were both thrilled to hear from us both and we spent a bit of time catching up on events. I also called Dinie to talk over a few things with her about the camper-van debacle and Sandy called one of her girlfriends in Holland that has just had her second baby.

Before we left the main building to come back to the house, I popped onto the Internet quickly to check on my e-mail. I had made several Internet inquiries yesterday for a rental car and there were several replies this morning. Quite astonishingly, there was an e-mail from a company that the current agency from whom we are renting our current car had referred us to (they do not have an office themselves in Wellington). This referral agency apparently was able to furnish me with a car for just NZ$35 (€20,30) per day and that is much cheaper than the reservation we now have with Budget so I replied and told them that I wanted to take the car and that we would call them back tomorrow morning. Hopefully, the car will still be available by then – here’s hoping.

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