The last two weeks have been busy, but for very different reasons: in the first, we roadtripped from Christchurch to Auckland. In the second, I started back at work and we tried to re-establish routine in our lives.

31/1 Monday Anne and Norrie’s friends were still down from Auckland, so we split up according to gender for a day out. I went shopping with Anne, Evelyn and Alison; while Craig hit the golf course with Norrie and Harry. After a glass of wine together, the others had to fly home, and Norrie, Anne, Craig and I had dinner at home.

1/2 Tuesday Craig and I headed to Riccarton in the morning to pick up Angie Orth, a fellow travel blogger (and PR extraordinaire) who we met at TBEX last year. We had coffee then went for a walk before dropping her off at the airport for her flight to Melbourne.

Norrie had the day off, so he took us out to lunch (and to the lawyer’s, fun times) in Rangiora, then insisted in buying us gifts. We spent our final night together hanging out at home.

2/2 Wednesday We made a late start to our roadtrip; we’d heard that it was raining in Arthur’s Pass and wanted to make the most of the 32-degree heat in Christchurch. The drive was nice, only about two hours, and we stopped for a picnic lunch at Castle Hill. We were staying at the Mountain House backpackers and were lucky enough to be given one of the cool houses up the hill from the main lodge. After settling in, a hike was in order; we chose a couple of short ones, to Bridal Falls and the Devil’s Punchbowl. They were great walks, through classic New Zealand bush and with the reward of waterfalls at the end. The day finished up in the local bar, drinking beer and eating pizza with Bob, the owner of the Mountain House.

3/2 Thursday After a quick coffee with Bob and a tour of the Mountain House‘s different buildings, we headed westwards to Greymouth. We stopped there for lunch then continued on to Punakaiki, to see the pancake rocks. Next, it was on to Nelson, where we checked into the Custom House backpackers and had fish and chips on the wharf for dinner.

4/2 Friday The road from Nelson to Picton must surely have the most amount of roadworks per kilometre in the entire country, but despite delays we arrived in time to catch the Interislander ferry across to Wellington. We were given passes to the first-class lounge, and enjoyed the free lunch and wireless Internet access – an upgrade might actually be financially sensible if you plan to buy food onboard.

Our friend and ex-flatmate Joy got in touch with us while we were on the ferry to suggest we meet her for a drink in Wellington, so we went to Mac’s on the waterfront for a beer or two, and caught up on what we’d all been up to since we last saw each other 18 months ago.

We hadn’t realised the Rugby Sevens were on that weekend, which made the streets entertaining but accommodation very hard to come by. Luckily Couchsurfing saved the day – a couchsurfer called Mark said we could try out his brand-new tent (all the rooms inside were full of other couchsurfers). We had dinner with him and his other guests, then crashed out in the tent. Awesome.

5/2 Saturday We breakfasted with the other couchsurfers, then headed back into Wellington city to go to Wellycon, a board-gamers’ convention. Basically that meant we just played board games all day! In the afternoon our good friends Angie and Dave turned up, so we enjoyed playing a game or two with them and eating dinner at the nearby Hell Pizza. They run a board game company with Craig, so it was all work, all day!

After dinner we drove up to Wanganui to find a place to stay but nothing caught our eye and Craig was keen to press on, so we scoured the city for an open petrol station before driving on to National Park. There, we found a friendly-looking residential street to park in and discovered that the new car has quite good seats for sleeping in – great reclination!

6/2 Sunday After a too-early start, we stopped in Taumaranui for a much-needed coffee, then drove straight on to Auckland. We dropped into Sylvia Park shopping centre to pick up a few things, and of course ran into all sorts of people we knew – it was quite nice actually. Next, we went over to my mum’s to say hi after not seeing her for a year or so and to pick up some essentials – I suddenly have a lot more clothes! In Auckland, we’re staying with our friends Chris and Sarah, who very kindly cooked us dinner – much appreciated.

7/2 Monday Perhaps somewhat unwisely, I started at work the day after arriving back in the city. It was great to be back in the classroom though, I found a lot of energy for it, though it had all disappeared by the end of the day. It was also awesome to see my colleagues again and catch up with them, and Craig met me and Rhi (my friend/boss) for dinner and a walk after work.

8/2 Tuesday After another day at work, Craig and I relaxed with a beer with Ben and Glenn (who interviewed us last year for their Kiwi Nation podcast).

9/2 Wednesday After work, we headed over to “the flat” where our mates Dave, Janine and Ange (and four others) live. We chatted, ate, caught up, and headed into Mt Eden with Ange to see Sherlock Holmes in the park. Some of our other friends (notably Graham and Julie) were there as well – it was so awesome to see them!

10/2 Thursday The day-four slump hit me at work, but at least the evening made up for it – our friends Drew and Katrina came over for dinner, which Chris and Sarah prepared: hand-made pasta with a smoked fish sauce. Magic.

11/2 Friday Friday’s always a good day, since I finish at 12.15. Rhi and I decided to re-institute the Friday tradition of eating Korean pancakes, and I also got to meet her parents, who are over from Wales for a holiday. I dropped into the library to pick up some books in Spanish (yay for El Principe Caspian!), then headed home to record the podcast with Craig. We decided to have an evening in since we were going away the next day, and basically just mooched about the house.

12/2 Saturday Our mate Dave’s parents have just built a bach (Kiwi for holiday home) at Lang’s Beach, and Dave had invited a select few of us up to try it out. It was billed as a “culinary and bach extravaganza” – we all had to prepare a tapas dish and choose a wine to accompany it. This meant from when we arrived at 2.30ish, we basically just ate all day. The food was incredible, the company better, and the bach was pretty good too.

13/2 Sunday A sleep in was definitely in order after a hard week of work and a Saturday of eating and drinking. When we finally got up, Dave and Mara made tasty breakfasts and a few of us played Ticket to Ride.

After a bit of cleaning, Craig and I drove back down to Auckland, did some grocery shopping, and had a relaxing evening in.

Your thoughts on "Travel diary: Christchurch to Auckland in five days or less"

  • LOVED seeing you guys, even if just for an hour or two. Looking forward to our next continent =)

    on February 17, 2011 at 8:31 am Reply
  • Hi Linda and Indy's I wonder what you think of this story that appears in last Sat/Sunday's Financial Times... listing five great train journeys. The one for New Zealand is NOT what I think you would guess or 99% per cent of the Indy's would pick out as NZ's top rail journey. The trip from Greymouth to Christchurch, NO, This is it http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/823f8c64-2feb-11e0-a7c6-00144feabdc0.html Auckland to Wellington aboard the Overlander Tourists flock to the South Island’s scenic TranzAlpine train but, for my money, New Zealand’s most interesting, historic and useful train is on the North Island, linking the economic and political capitals. Leaving Auckland at 7.25am, daily in summer (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in winter), the Overlander is an epic 12-hour ride over the historic North Island Main Trunk Railway, including such engineering feats as the Raurimu Spiral and the Makatote Viaduct. It passes almost every type of scenery there is, from volcanoes to river gorges, coastline to rainforest, calling at Tongariro national park on the way. Auckland to Wellington costs NZ$131 (£66), www.tranzscenic.co.nz. What do you think? Larry

    on February 20, 2011 at 9:11 am Reply

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