We stumbled upon a crackin’ deal with a company called TransferCar, which basically is a company that lets you drive hire cars between locations all over New Zealand for ONE MEASLY DOLLAR. My Canadian buddies, Ben and Harrison, needed to be in Christchurch and I had made plans to head up the East coast to Kaikoura, so we set out on the 500km drive knowing that it would be our last full day together. The scenery on the drive was spectacular, taking in the sights of Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo on the way. Ben took the first shift, followed by Harrison (I was avoiding driving because the car was automatic and I’ve only ever driven a manual car — I can confirm my lifelong suspicions were correct and that I do indeed hate automatic cars).
We were happily cruising along and I was in my favourite position; in charge of the driving playlist, when all of a sudden, a seemingly normal red car driving towards us pulled the most badass high speed U-turn I’ve ever seen and, lo and behold, switches on his hidden red and blue lights. We had earlier been wondering whether there were unmarked police cars in New Zealand and the answer was now very clear; yes, yes there are. Now, when I said we were “happily cruising along” it seems the cruising was perhaps a little too fast and yep, we were pulled over. Harrison, who was driving at the time, went ghost white, I was sat like omg, omg they’re going to deport me and we’re in SO much trouble and Ben was sat in the backseat silently laughing at the unfolding drama. LUCKILY, the policeman that pulled us over was a top bloke and, though he acknowledged that we were going a tad fast, he was pretty decent about the situation.
This is where the country card came into play, with the policeman literally saying to Harrison “now then, I know Canadians are usually very good drivers so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt” and a reduced fine. I wonder if he’d have been so nice to me, a British driver?! Anyway, fuelled by adrenaline we got out of there as soon as he would allow us but minutes later we found ourselves being tailed by a marked police car, which I’m sure was just a coincidence, but it was too much! We decided to pit stop at McDonalds (where Harrison immediately paid his fine online) and switch drivers for the last leg of the drive into Christchurch, so I’d be driving the crappy automatic car the rest of the way, yay!
We rolled into Christchurch just as the sun was setting, and dropped off all our stuff at our separate accommodations. We drove towards the airport, where we had to drop off the car, slowly because it dawned that we’d soon all have to say goodbye. With the car gone, we did a running loop of the airport as we tried to find a bus headed back towards the city. We found one just in time and jumped on, exhausted from the days events. We all sort of collapsed together in a heap and we’re pretty quiet for the whole bus ride through the city. All too soon, we were at the central bus station. We walked a few blocks together, chatting a bit about differences between Canada and the UK (yet again)and then it was time to split up. I hugged Ben and then I hugged Harrison and then I think I hugged them both another five times at least. They were my lads and they were leaving me! But nah, in all seriousness, those two have been a massive part of my trip and I’ve loved spending time with them. A trip to Canada to see them is a certainty and I’m thrilled to have made friends with two genuinely lovely/ funny/ smart people.
I checked into my hostel as late as possible and then I was out before the sun came up the next morning, so it’s fair to say I didn’t get to see much of Christchurch. I did get to see it very briefly as the sun broke over the city and cast huge shadows beyond the half built/ half demolished buildings that still stand in defiance of the 2011 earthquake that badly damaged the area. Hardly any wall is left untouched, with most claimed by murals and street art. It was a very humbling sight, as brief as it may have been. I hope I’ll get chance to actually explore the city sometime.
(As my visit was so brief I had no chance to whip my camera out, so the header photo is borrowed from Christchurch Daily Photo)