Saturday, November 29, 2008

New Zealand, Part 2

This is the continuation of my New Zealand trip journal. Again, with apologies for the length.

We took Highway 6 inland towards Murchison, which follows along Buller Gorge. The weather started off sort of nasty, but turned much better as the day went on. Actually, by mid-morning, I might argue that the weather was in the running for Best Weather Ever. There was another swinging bridge, which again, made someone happy. It turns out, this is the longest swinging bridge in New Zealand. It was cool, as was the park on the other side, but this was our one requisite tourist trap on the trip.

Along the journey, we got to enjoy a completely blind, one lane road around a cliff. Don't stop or the rocks may fall on you. Or a car may hit you from either direction.

From Murchison, we turned south down Highway 65. Now, I didn't see all of New Zealand. I didn't see all of the south island. I didn't even see all of the north part of the south island. But if I had to pick one part to see again, I'd say it's Highway 65 and 7 between Murchison and Hamner Springs.

Did I mention there are playful sheep in New Zealand?

We cruised into Christchurch for the evening, where we took up lodging at the Windsor Hotel, which was a lovely bed and breakfast. Very efficient staff, free wireless, evening tea, 24 hour coffee/tea/cookies. We had a great room. It actually had a double and two twin beds, which was just enough for the two of us. We had a great view over the park out front. Each room comes with bathrobes for the guests. Breakfast was huge, essentially all you can eat, and made to order. In short, I would stay here again, and would recommend it to others. Dinner was at a lovely Indian restaurant, followed up by a wickedly overpriced beer at the local Irish pub. But, at least New Zealand beer is tasty, unlike Australian beer (generally).

The last day. A short day, since we had something like a 15:00 flight. We got up, I spent some time working (as I did on Monday, but really, who wants to hear about that?), we had our lovely breakfast, and went out for a brief stroll through Christchurch in the daylight. We checked out the cathedral in the town square, walked through some of the shopping districts, and made our way over to the English Garden. The garden was quite nice. It's not clear to me if we were early, late, or right on time for the major spring bloom, but I'd guess not right on time. Either way, lots of great flowers, and a really nicely laid out park. One could walk for a long time in the gardens and just soak in the ambiance. I dig.

Finally, off to the airport. Sometimes, I'm convinced that it's easier to fly on other airlines than on the one I work for. Both ways on this trip, we walked up to the ticket counter, and were given boarding passes. With seats. Not some silly DM card. It was fantastic. Return trip, slightly better than the outbound, only because we were on one of the recently retrofitted 320s with in seat Panasonic video. I could go on about how it has the same issues that ours has, but this isn't a blog about work. We had really good luck on Air Canada once upon a time, too. Oh, and did I mention full meal service on the flight back in part one? It's an airplane meal, but still.

In short, New Zealand was amazing. Go if you get the chance. I'm going back.

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