Home > New Zealand > Day 11: Surf and Turf

Day 11: Surf and Turf

10 June, 2010

Wow, I am completely exhausted. The trip is almost over (I’m sitting in the airport about to board the plane to Wellington), but I still have a massive cram session for my biology exam remaining. As of 4:30pm tomorrow, though, I’m done until my physics exam two weeks later.

We got up this morning and basically scrambled all day. By 8am, we were out of our camping spot and driving towards Greymouth. While it was slightly out of our way, we needed to check the condition of Arthur’s Pass (Route 73). This road passes through the mountains and is routinely closed due to snow. Luckily, there was no problem (“but make sure to take it slow, and you remember that you could get turned around if the forecast changes,”) and we headed out.

The drive was incredibly beautiful. We started out with some rain, but it died out after a while and gave way to blue skies. Unfortunately, we were a bit pressed for time, so we didn’t get to stop much. (I only ended up taking one or two pictures, despite the spectacular scenery.)

Arthur's Pass

Despite the fact that Arthur's Pass was completely gorgeous, I only got one decent photo out of the drive. We were a bit rushed trying to get to Christchurch in time to drop off our van and didn't get a chance to stop for pictures.

We actually got pretty lucky making it back to Christchurch on time. Our van was due back at 2pm (though I got it extended to 3pm). We left at 8am, and it was set to take 4 hours…in perfect conditions and if you knew the road. On top of that, we still had to pack everything away and find out how to get to the drop-off depot. We did all this, plus cooking and eating lunch, in the parking lot of a restaurant just outside of Christchurch.

We ended up with a little extra time and tried stopping by the airport to see if we could check our bags early so we didn’t have to carry them around Christchurch all afternoon. Unfortunately, after wandering aimlessly and dealing with some annoyingly long lines, we weren’t allowed.

When we dropped the van off, we were a bit nervous about the damage report. We didn’t get into an accident or anything, but we did get a chip in the windshield. We were driving down a main road (Route 6) which had some “grit” (cinders—those little rocks to prevent you from sliding on ice). A campervan passing on the other side was going a little too fast, and we ended up with a sizable chink in our windshield. Luckily, it was near another, less prominent chip, and the guy checking damage mistook one for the other. In other words, despite the chip and the insurance that didn’t cover the windshield, we didn’t pay a penny, and the crewman initialed off an “All ok!”

After dropping the van off, we took a free shuttle to Cathedral Square, the town center of Christchurch. We found a Base Backpackers that let us store our bags, and we explored the city. Katrina got a ring, a small, sterling silver band with a shiny shell in the center, at the Cathedral Square markets.

A Little Ring

A ring that Kat got down in Christchurch. The main setting is a shiny, multicolored seashell.

We also took a trip to the Christchurch Art Gallery, looking at the Observation/Action/Reflection collection. The main piece in this collection was an attachment of two long, counter-rotating rods. As they rotated, live wires on the ends of the rods pulled across a copper strip on the wall and created a mini Tesla arc.

Christchurch Art Gallery

The art gallery in Christchurch. It's one of the most modern I've seen.

We walked around the city a bit more, but we were losing sun, and it was getting cold. I was feeling pretty sick from a combination of head congestion and (what I just realized) was pretty strong dehydration. I grabbed a 250mL bottle of water and chugged it. This held me over for a little while, but what I really needed was some food.

We ended up at The Tap Room on Oxford Terrace. I chugged some more water, and we ordered seafood chowder as a starter. This was not your typical US chowder. Besides being nearly enough for the two of us as a meal, it was filled with huge chunks of fish, scallops, and prawns. It even had two whole, shell-on mussels floating on top. Delicious!

Seafood Chowder

Our appetizer at The Tap Room in Christchurch. It was one of the heartiest seafood chowders I've ever eaten. It was corn and potato based and had huge chunks of seafood in it. Everything from fish and squid to scallops and even full mussels on top.

For dinner, they were having an early bird special: 1/2 off their Stonegrill meals. Your meal comes out on a 400° C stone, almost fully raw. You can cook the meat just how you like, along with a variety of sauces. I got the Surf and Turf: a 200g steak, 2 prawns, and 2 scallops. Kat ended up with the Ocean Fare: a lobster tail, 2 prawns, 2 scallops, and 2 mussels. For the $14 NZD ($10 USD) that they each cost, it would have been a steal just for the raw meat!

Although stuffed and completely satisfied, the food was too delicious to pass up dessert. We finished with a white chocolate raspberry tartlet with an almond crust and a scoop of plum ice cream, one of the tastiest desserts I’ve had in a while.

And that brings me here to the end of our trip. By this point, I’ve already boarded the flight, and we actually just started our decent into Wellington.

In the Airport

We spent 15 minutes trying to take this picture of ourselves at Mojo in the airport. We ended up with 30+ photos and only got a few to turn out.

This trip, I can easily say, was (and probably will be for a long time) the most amazing trip I’ve ever taken. When else can I say that I’ve gone skydiving, climbed a glacier, and cruised through one of the most beautiful National Parks in the world? And all of this, even the driving, was through the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to find a place where you can go from a coastal dream to sheep farms to snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and more in the span of one day’s drive. (Not to mention my amazing companion through this whole thing.)

Still, I can say I’m a little glad to be getting back. I’m starting to get sick; I think that’s about all my body can take of sleeping in a cold, confined, and slightly damp van. (Don’t get me wrong—our van was wonderfully comfortable in itself. But New Zealand nights can get pretty chilly this time of year.)

My last word of advice: take the trip to New Zealand, especially the South Island, at some point in your life. I know I’ve said this a thousand times, but I have to say it again. Out of all the people I talk to, nearly all of them, be they from North America, Brazil, Europe, or Asia, have said that New Zealand is, by far, the most beautiful place they’ve ever seen. If you can make the trip, you’ll be glad you did. Who knows, you just may never want to head back home.

-Brandon M. Koger

See the full set on Flickr! (Photos will be uploaded as I go through each day.)

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  1. Matt
    July 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Wait? Is that it? Are you signing off?
    Darn, I guess I have to go back to political blogs that just depress me.

    • July 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      Of course not. I’m signing out from the South Island Trip. I’ve still got 3 more sets of pictures from New Zealand (though not nearly of this caliber), a bunch more stories, and another 7 sets of pictures from back home.

  2. Matt
    July 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I figured. I was just kidding because of the full signature you used on your last post. So very definitive and serious! :)

  3. Genna
    July 27, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Whew–finally caught up with your South Island trip! You talked me into it. We’re going. :) So beautiful! Loved reading them all. See you soon!!

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