|We had a little time before our flight to Christchurch in the afternoon so we thought we'd have another look around and do some shopping. We discovered that all the good clothes shops and cafes were on the High Street parallel to Queen Street and we hadn't found it before now. It's funny how you only seem to discover where the action is in a town hours before you leave it. After shopping around, Kate bought some very nice smart trousers and then we sat in Albert Park for a while soaking up the sunshine.
We got back to the hotel to find our Shuttle bus waiting to take us to the airport. We whizzed through town picking up various other people, including a German couple who sat behind us opening and closing windows every five seconds and talking loudly. I understood some of it but I'm a bit rusty so I resisted the temptation to say something in my pidgin-deutsche.
Anyway, soon enough we were on the plane and flying south over the North Island. We got a good view over Queen Charlotte sound as we crossed the Cook Strait, and soon we were over the Kaikura mountain range and the snow capped peaks looked fantastic poking through the clouds in the evening light. I kicked myself for not keeping the camera handy but I hoped we'd get another chance soon. The Canterbury Plains came into view and we began our descent into Christchurch.
Tim, Kate's contact at Landcare, was there to meet us and he gave us a lift into town to our motel. Tim seemed a very laid back guy and we arranged to meet up socially soon although Kate would be seeing him when she started work on Monday. We got a few glimpses of the town which certainly looked very different to Auckland, with Victorian gothic architecture and mostly low rise development. I liked the look of it already.
The Stonehurst motel was pretty much as we expected, with a lot of young backpackers milling around. We had a bit of a scare when they said they had no record of the booking, but it turned out that they had misspelt my name. Phew. Anyway they had plenty of space and we chose a very nice little tourist flat for the week until we had decided what we were going to do. It looked brand new and was actually a lot nicer than our last flat in may ways, but that was largely because we didn't have any of our clutter in it.
We unpacked and both got the feeling that we had finally arrived and that this town was going to be our home for the next few months. We were very centrally located and we wandered into town and walked down Manchester Street looking for an Indian restaurant we had heard was good - Two Fat Indians. They were pretty busy but they squeezed us in and we had a fairy mediocre meal, but it was enough for us.
We both had a good feeling about Christchurch as we walked back. It felt small enough to get to know it quite well but big enough for there to be plenty to keep us occupied. We were looking forward to the next few months.