The rain just won’t let up in Christchurch and even the locals find it unbelievable for this time of year. We chase the sun over to the west coast. Traveling over Lewis Pass and a night at Hanmer Springs, on in to Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks and down to Fox glacier we drive before the rain finally finds us. This car handles so well, it is such a pleasure to drive.
At Fox Glacier we stay at a backpacker’s on Christmas eve, and have some very nice conversations with fellow wanderers. There’s a woman who teaches at the community college in Grand Junction, a man who retired from farming in Ohio, another young woman applying for a job with CBS for the Beijing Olympics, and they are all really entertaining people.
There’s also a younger guy from Minnesota who is living in Wellington and down for the holiday. His bus up to Nelson doesn’t leave for another day and he feels stuck at Fox Glacier so I offer to take him up north to Greymouth where he feels it will be better to catch a bus that day.
Off we go and what this guy lacks in personality he compliments with sheer dumbness. He decides to just stay the night at Greymouth, which is a small town with nothing going on at all, as opposed to Fox where admittedly there is no town but who cares when you’re surrounded by mountains majesty? It would be like choosing to hang out in Detroit over Aspen. He declined my invitation to head back for Christmas in Christchurch so I leave him at a stinky hostel that he chose, and we go over Arthur’s Pass.
What a lovely area and we stop to hike to a falls. There are Lupin blooming throughout the valley. We pick up a guy who has just done a long back country trip. Heâ€™s a teacher in Auckland and very entertaining for conversation. He takes me up on my offer to mail his stove and gas bottle back since he canâ€™t take it on the plane and mentions that he helps to maintain a hut in Tongariro so he would like for us to come up so we can do a hike with him out to it; fantastic.
Hanging out in Christchurch we do some of the cultural things like the Museum and Botanic Gardens. We need to get serious about job finding and I am fired up to go back to school. I want to study science and get a Master’s in Environmental Science. Education is cheap here, and Otago is ranked in the top 100 internationally and has a well-known program. Erica will teach and has her credentials all sorted out.
Our plans are to head south and visit the campus in Dunedin, hike Kepler outside of Te Anau and spend some time in the Queenstown and Wanaka area before we have to really concentrate on finding the place to live and settling. After all our shopping for that place to live, it has found us in regards to my education, more than likely we will be making home in Dunedin.