Our round the world trip (25): back to Christchurch

On Friday evening, Roger thought that he could fit in one more experience as he had seen a stargazing option advertised so, while Vee washed her hair (a very important ritual on all our holidays), he was out from about 8-10 pm. The exercise was located at the top of the Skyride Gondola, but the weather proved so cloudy that the guide Colette cancelled the event and arranged refunds. On the ride up, Roger befriended a professional Indian couple from Mumbai and, on the ride down, he talked with seven Chinese – three women and two men – and had photos together.

The last day of the New Zealand tour – Day 26 (Saturday) for Vee & Roger – was no different from all the others on the South Island. Yup, yet another early start: alarm at 6.15 am, bags out at 7.15 am, and off at 8 am.

Our driver Darryl – who shared a lot of the commentary with our guide Mark on the South Island – courted controversy by explaining the strict gun control laws in New Zealand (very similar to those in the UK) and ventured to suggest that the United States would benefit by adopting the same type of controls. The Americans – whose constituted the largest national segment of our group – were as divided between liberals and conservatives as their country as whole and some of them gave Darryl a lively counter argument.

Our journey originally took us east to Cromwell where we turned north and drove along Lake Dunstan and through Lindis Valley before stopping at Omarama for refreshment and a final opportunity at retail therapy in the “Merino Country Cafe”. Continuing north through the oddly-named Twizel to the foot of Lake Putaki, we halted for photographs of Mount Cook – or Aoraki (“Cloud piercer”) as it called by the Maori – at the other end of the lake. This mountain rises to 3,755 metres which makes it the tallest in Australasia, but only around a third of tourist groups actually see it because weather conditions are so variable, so we felt blessed that our brilliant luck with good weather had held out throughout the tour.

An hour later, we made another scenic stop for another photo opportunity: the tiny stone and oak Church of the Good Shepherd built in 1935 at the foot of Lake Tekapo. Roger & Vee were excited to find themselves at this church because they remembered that it was the location of the wedding of their good friends Beth Lamont & Philip Bickerstaffe in December 2002. We asked an attendant if we could see the register for that time and found the record of Beth & Philip’s wedding.

After more travel in an easterly direction, our lunch stop of almost two hours was at a wonderfully congenial place: the Morelea Farm at Fairlie. This is a working farm with some 4,000 sheep, around 1,800 cattle, three alpacas (for their wool), and a sheep dog called Bo. It is run by Stan & Angie who made us really welcome at their lovely home and served an excellent meal of hamburger, lamb, sausage & salad followed by a particularly delicious pavlova.

The final stretch of the journey was across the Canterbury Plain to Christchurch which we had left a very, very full five days ago. We arrived at our hotel – this time the Chateau on the Park (still under repair from the earthquake) – at 5 pm after a road trip of nine hours. As he said his farewell, Darryl asserted: “We know that it’s Australia that brings you down to this part of the world, but we believe that it’s New Zealand that will bring you back”.

The farewell dinner was at the hotel in a large restaurant shared by other groups but, at the end of the meal, there was much hand shaking and hugging as we all promised to be in touch. Nobody stayed on at the bar because most people had to leave for the airport at 4 am or 5 am next morning.


  • Derek and Mari

    Well, your Australian and NZ trip has come to an end and wonder what we shall do with nothing to keep us posted when you eventually return to the UK. Your blog has been so interesting and feel we have been with you all the way. Take care and look forward to seeing you soon. Derek and Mari xx

  • Acall

    Hey Roger! I am one of the Chinese girls u met at the top of the Skyride Gondola in the Queens Town. It’s really nice of meeting u! Jason just received your e-mail and we are sorry for showing up late here. Jason wants me to tell that he will reply your e-mail in 1-2 days cuz his English is not that good, but he will try his best.^_^ He is cute isn’t he? We are still looking forward of showing u around our city when u come to china next time~ Just let us know when u make up the plan~! Keep in touch!

  • Roger Darlington

    Thanks, Acall. Lovely to hear from you. I don’t have your e-mail address, Why don’t you e-mail me as well as Jason?


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>