Greetings from Middle Earth! This past week in New Zealand has been like a dream I started my adventures on the south island in Christchurch. I had several people tell me that I only needed a day or two in Christchurch before moving on, but I absolutely disagree (although I’m sure it didn’t hurt I had some company while I was there!)
From the get go, everyone in New Zealand has been extremely friendly. The first person I met was my taxi driver. I know what you’re thinking – why didn’t I Uber? But sadly Uber can’t pick up at the Christchurch airport. Knowing what I do now, I’m pretty sure my driver ripped me off, but he did offer to bring me back a bottle of wine that evening to my AirBnB (you decide….friendly, creepy, or feeling guilty for ripping me off?).
The AirBnB I rented was extremely affordable and comfortable. I spent the first evening sleeping through a magnitude 4 earthquake like a baby. Welcome to Christchurch.
BUT, my AirBnb was actually out in Hornby (basically a suburb) and I found out quickly that the Christchurch bus system has much to be, making it difficult to get around. The buses themselves were extremely clean and comfy, and the bus drivers were so happy and accomodating, but that’s about the only thing they had going for them. There were no signs or announcements on board the buses, and the stop numbers at the bus stops were often on the opposite side of the pole, making it IMPOSSIBLE to see them and know where to get off. For someone as terrible at directions as I am, this was a nightmare. I got off the bus at the wrong place 80% of the time. My Uber bill was astronomical. If you ever happen to visit Christchurch, I highly advise renting a car or staying closer in to town. Your wallet will thank you.
But, I digress. Aside from the million bus mishaps, I’m obsessed with this country. In fact, I may or may not have googled “How do you move to New Zealand?” a handful of times in the past several days. Some of my favorite experiences included…
If you visit Christchurch, a stop by Quake City is a must. The museum tells the story of the 2010-2011 earthquakes that shook the region. The moving videos and informative exhibit gives you an idea of what the town has gone through and why it looks the way it does.
WAIPARA WINE TASTING
I love wine. If you know me well, you know that my favorite wine is Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It has been a DREAM of mine to come over this way to do wine tasting. My friend Ericka, her college roommate, Steph, and I headed north to the Waipara wine region and spent the afternoon hopping around to different vineyards and sampling different wines.
First we went to Pegasus Bay Winery which had some stunning views. The vibrant blue of the sky and the bright green foliage was unreal.
Pegasus Bay was all booked up for lunch, but we did have a great time wandering around the property and drinking vino before heading over to Waipara Hills.
Waipara Hills Winery was equally stunning and served up a scrumptious lunch. Just a little warning, if you want to have lunch at either Waipara Hills or Pegasus Bay over the weekend, you definitely need to make a reservation.
The food at Waipara Hills was casually upscale, which I loved. The pork belly pitas were to die for.
CHRISTCHURCH BOTANIC GARDENS
I spent a lovely morning meandering through the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. The gardens were founded in 1863 when an English oak was planted to honor the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Alexandra. The property is made up of several beautiful gardens, but my favorites were the rose garden and the azalea and magnolia garden because they smelled amazing! The family of baby ducks was also precious! They just waddled right up to me! If I had more time, I would have brought back a good book and camped out for a few more hours.
After spending the morning at the gardens, I jumped on the shuttle (it runs every hour from in front of the Canterbury Museum) for an afternoon visit to the Christchurch Gondola. Y’all! It was beautiful! You can see across the entire city of Christchurch, the Southern Alps, and a beautiful view of Lyttleton Harbour.
I ended up spending two evenings glamping in Akaroa after my 5 days in Christchurch. I’ve decided that it was so magical it needs its very own post. Akaroa is a historic French & British settlement tucked between remnants of a volcano and it might as well be straight out of a storybook. You can easily do Akaroa as a day trip , but I’d spend more time there if you have a chance. The town is precious. The water is the most beautiful shade of turquoise. STRAIGHT. MAGIC.
So there were so many little things I learned and experienced that I wanted to share, so I’ve decided to end each post with little fun experiences I had or fun facts that I learned while traveling.
♥ If you are traveling through an Australian airport to get to New Zealand, you need an Australian visa.
♥ Hokey Pokey ice cream is a thing. It’s delicious and tastes a little bit like Butterfingers.
♥ New Zealanders are not called Kiwis because of the fruit. The kiwi is actually a native bird and New Zealand’s national symbol.
♥ If you can afford to be flexible with your planning, book your events and tours the week before via Book Me for big savings.
♥ Hot pies are flaky and delicious. They’re kind of like our chicken pot pies in America, but there are so many mouthwatering flavors to choose from (think steak and mushroom with cheese or lamb with rosemary). A sweet local took me to get one and shared a secret: the best place to get a hot pie is the Z gas station. Yes, you read that right.
♥ The crime rate is extremely low. Last year, the entire country of New Zealand had about 1/3 of the amount of homicides as my hometown back in the states.
♥ There are no snakes and only one or two mildly poisonous spiders. WINNING.
♥ Pineapple lumps are a thing. They’re delicious. They also contain no pineapple….