Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Zealand Day Nine: Back to Christchurch

Are you tired of hearing about New Zealand yet?! There's still more! But, sadly, not much more.

I woke up in our cozy cabin in Arthur's Pass, with the fire dying out in the living room. I was surprised to hear Bryan already moving about, and he brought me a cup of coffee and told me that he'd already been out exploring. Our cabin was full of posted information about the kiwi, New Zealand's national bird, a big flightless wonder. Apparently the woods around our cabin were inhabited by kiwi, and Bryan had gotten up early to see if he could spot some. He didn't get lucky, but I think he had fun looking.

We hung around in the cabin for as long as possible, reading a bit more by the fire and sipping coffee. Once it was time to check out, we made the 30-second drive into town and stopped at the Arthur's Pass Store/Cafe to get some breakfast. As soon as we got out of our car, we were greeted by one of the cheeky local kea, who perched right on top of our car! I was worried about him scratching our rental car, so I waved an arm at him, hoping he'd be startled and fly off. No such luck. He just looked at me like I was batty and continued his investigation of our roof.
Struttin' his stuff on top of our car
Erm...excuse me...could you not be on our car?! Anywhere else will do, really

Once the kea had realized that there were no delicious snacks to be had on the roof of our car, he flew off and we went inside to get some breakfast. We chomped down hearty meals of eggs and toast while we watched a few of the birds through the windows. I always think of birds as being graceful, but the kea are a notable exception to the rule. They kind of totter around, and we saw a couple lose their grip on gutters or car windows and have to recover by flapping their wings frantically.

After breakfast and kea-watching, we headed down the road to the edge of town, where there was a trailhead. We parked the car and began down the trail to Devil's Punchbowl Falls. Right away, we crossed a bridge and were rewarded with some stunning views. It was especially nice to see the sun shimmering brightly on the water after all the rain the day before.
What a day!!

It was pleasant in the woods. Everything was vibrant and green after the rains of the day before, and there weren't many people around, so it was very peaceful. We hiked along for a while without seeing any other people or animals. We heard the falls thundering in the distance long before we reached them. When we got there, the falls were very impressive!!
WOW! Big falls!

There was a good view of the falls from the path, but there was a viewing platform up closer. We hung out on the platform while Bryan snapped away with the camera and we both got misted by icy water coming from the "punchbowl."
On the viewing platform

It hadn't taken us long to get to the Devil's Punchbowl Falls, so we decided to continue on to another waterfall we'd been told about by a ranger at the Visitor Center in town. That path was also more or less free of other people, so we had ample room to stop and admire the plants and the few birds we saw, too high up in the trees to be photographed. Bryan did take some photos of the forest itself, since it was dense with some of the strangest mosses and lichens I've seen.
So dense! And it had that great, earthly forest smell!
So much green!!!
Extreme moss CLOSE-UP!

Eventually we got to a viewpoint for the next set of falls, which was called...BRIDAL VEIL FALLS! Yay!!! Perfect timing!
I can see where it gets its name!

After many ridiculous attempts by me  to position my head so it looked like I was actually wearing the falls as a veil, we moved on, heading back down the path toward our car. As we walked, we got a nice viewpoint of Arthur's Pass village. You can see how small it is! It's the kind of town that my dad would refer to as "just a wide place in the road."
Arthur's Pass town...it's there, I swear! Just get a magnifying glass.

We stopped again as we crossed the bridge to appreciate the view one final time before we headed out of Arthur's Pass for good.
Wishing we had another week to stay here!!
Who would want to leave this?!

Somehow we managed to tear ourselves away from Arthur's Pass village, even though it was one of the most inviting places I've ever been. We had a plane to catch the next day and an All Blacks game to catch that afternoon, so we made our way to Christchurch. It was a lovely drive and we had great weather. There were a couple of memorable moments, for instance when a HUGE pheasant unexpectedly flew out in front of our car, causing me to scream like a little girl. It was actually a very beautiful bird, but unfortunately I was too busy flipping out to snap a photo. A few minutes later we were sitting quietly when I said "HEY! THOSE ARE REALLY FLUFFY SHEEP!" and Bryan looked up just as one of my "sheep" lifted its head and proved itself to be a llama. Smooth. Anyway, eventually we pulled into Christchurch and checked back in to the Ashford Motor Lodge, where our trip had first started. We knew that they had bathtubs and we'd be ale to watch the Rugby World Cup on our TV, so it was a pretty easy decision.

After checking in, we walked up the street and picked up some beer to watch the All Blacks play Canada. I made sure we were back in plenty of time for the start of the game so I wouldn't miss my favorite part- the All Blacks haka!!!

The haka is a traditional Māori warrior dance. The dance isn't the same every time, but it usually includes stomping feet, slapping of the arms and/or legs, and tongues sticking out. It's lots of fun to watch, especially when it's being performed by the good-looking All Blacks!! The All Blacks do the haka before every game, while the opposing  team is forced to stand and watch. It's pretty funny to watch as the other team just has to stand there and be intimidated!

The game itself was eventful, but not particularly nail-biting. The All Blacks destroyed Canada with a final score of 79 to 15.

Watching the All Blacks stomp all over Canada made us hungry, so we walked down the street and revisited Spagalimi's, where we'd had dinner at the beginning of our journey (back when we weren't even engaged yet!). On the way, we passed a wedding gown shop, and I stopped and ogled through the windows for a few minutes while Bryan waited very patiently. But not even princess dresses can keep me away from good Italian food, so we moved on. Spag's was pretty empty, and we had a quiet and delicious meal.
Wishin' we had a Spag's in Jurong East!

So that was pretty much our trip. We went back to our room that night and took turns using the bathtub, knowing it would be awhile before we had that luxury again (our apartment, like most Singaporean apartments, doesn't have a tub). The next morning we got up and dropped off our car before catching our Singapore Airlines flight back to Singapore. Again, the flight was most excellent, and it was a nice way to end a trip that we'll remember the rest of our lives- the time we went to New Zealand and got engaged!!

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