The Great North-Island Adventure: A New Zealand Road Trip – Day 1

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It’s finally time – to pack up my bag again and move on from New Zealand. What calls me onward is not a new country, but instead a return to a home that I haven’t seen in months. I would enjoy staying in New Zealand for another six months, but unfortunately a lack of good job options and my non-infinite bank accounts have conspired together, and the clearest course for me is to return home to rest and rebuild my finances before starting out again on another world trip.

For now, what that means is that I am taking my leave of Christchurch. While the city has been amazing to me, I haven’t had the time to see anything of the North Island as of yet, and so I’ve planned out a road trip in order to remedy this.

Day 1

They key to this road trip of mine was a car. I obviously don’t own one, and I can’t afford to rent one, so what could I do? Car relocation was the solution that I came up with; a service where I volenteer to drive a rental car from one airport to another in a specific time frame. I don’t pay for the rental, and in return I make sure to deliver the car by a certain date and time. Not a bad deal, when I just need a way to get from one city to another, but want to actually see the space in between instead of simply flying over it.

So Sunday morning found me dragging myself out of bed before 8:00 so that Mike and I could drive out to the Christchurch Airport to pick up this car. It took us a while to find the renal agency, since it wasn’t one that we had dealt with before, but once we found it everything about the pickup went smoothly… though not quickly I’m afraid. I waited for over an hour and a half before I was finally given the keys to the car, but since I wasn’t paying for the rental I couldn’t really find a reason to complain too loudly. And so, after a quick overview of the car and a damage-check to make sure I would be getting my security deposit back, I headed out with a fancy new Sirion Daihatsu.

Mike and I met up again to have a quick going-away breakfast at a small place I had found earlier called Drexel’s (Yes, I think this is actually related to the school my sister goes to, Drexel University, since from what I can tell their both named after the same guy) where we chatted for a short bit and ate ourselves an amazing Breakfast… I really don’t know what it is, specifically, that draws me to Pancakes to strongly. But whatever it is, there is honestly no breakfast better than a tall stack of pancakes with Bacon and Eggs on the side.

After saying my final (for now) goodbyes to Mike, I headed out again to do a final round of goodbyes to the other folks that I had promised I’d see before leaving – Oliva, Spanish, Storm, and Rachel. In all my visiting took a bit longer than I planned, but I’m quite happy that I did take the time; these people (and many others that I didn’t get to see that Sunday) had touched my lives in so many ways, and I was, and still am, very sorry that I had to take my leave of them. But, either fortunately or unfortunately, the world continues to turn and I had to continue one with my adventures on the open road.

And that open road was… boring. Right outside of Christchurch I got trapped in almost an hour and a half of traffic caused by some accident that required the services of not one, but three fire trucks. The only consolation for me was afterwards when I got to really stretch the cars legs on the coastal highway… I had honestly forgotten how much I love driving manual-transmission cars, and driving this one around was reminding me how amazingly better it is than driving a normal automatic transmission.

But no matter how quickly I drove, or how much fun I had shifting gears to tear around the corners, I couldn’t shake the knowledge that I was going to miss my ferry. You see, I was on the south island, and the only way across is via an inter-island ferry that goes from the town of Picton to the city of Wellington. And it was set to board at 5:05… significantly before I was going to make it there. Thankfully I was able to rebook the ferry passage without trouble when I did finally arrive (nearly two hours late, but thats neither here nor there), and so I went from being two hours late, to having nearly two hours to kill before the ferry started boarding.

I burned up this time by visiting a small pub called the “Toot n’ Whistle” for a quick bite to eat, and then sitting and taking a nap in the car, since I had a feeling I wouldn’t be getting much sleep on the ferry. Unfortunately I was right, and the ferry ride ran into more than a few waves on its three-hour tour to Wellington. Yes, seriously, a “three hour tour”… not a cursed time-frame at all, no one’s ever been shipwrecked for decades from one of those… Has anyone rescued Gilligan yet? I don’t know.

The ferry ride itself was slow and long, and found me starting to understand how ancient sailors could have believed in sea monsters so easily. It was pitch-black outside, even with the running lights of the ship lit on the decks, but every once in a while you’d notice something in the water, some small reflection of the light that would catch the eye and cause the brain to go into conniptions trying to figure out what it could possibly be. And the result was always “something big and scary that wants to eat you”. The fact that the ship would be creaking and moaning around me didn’t help any, let me tell you. Even with my headphones and movies playing on the laptop, I was unconvinced that we’d ever make landfall, and doubly convinced that some sort of sea-serpent was waiting for us just below the waterline.

Once the ferry did finally arrive, I quickly made my way back to the car, and onto the highway looking for a place to stay. At the rental place I had commandeered a whole book of accommodations, and so I had found a cheap place that I was planning on staying that night – just a small campground about 20min outside of the city. It took a bit of searching to finally find it, thanks to the horrendously early hour, but soon enough I was laying out my sleeping bag and pad on the grass, and dozing off to sleep under the stars.

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