Unfortunately, air travel is often still a messy experience. We have done tons flights and have learned never to trust that things will just go as planned. When Air New Zealand moved our flight back a day it meant we couldn’t check into our Auckland-Christchurch leg on the day we left Vancouver. When we weren’t able to check in 24 hours ahead either, Dave became a very nervous boy. We actually walked over to the ANZ counter in the Auckland domestic terminal to try and validate what was up. We were assured we had exit row seats and things were fine, but it was not very confidence inspiring.
So, we started out very early this morning. We took advantage of the early breakfast buffet at the hotel and made sure we were at the check in as close to 7am as possible. Turns out we had seats assigned, even though we never got confirmation of this! Second breakfast was in the lounge; fitting as we are in Hobbit territory!
This is our first view of the South Island.
Once off the plane we were taken by shuttle to pick up our rental car – a Toyota Fortuner (the SUV version of the venerable Hilux pickup). Driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road is always a (re)learning experience. We also had some difficulty with Google Maps, twice taking us to dead ends and once asking us to turn left where there was no road! Dave likes to connect his phone to CarPlay, but, alas, it is not available on this level of rental! And Kris, while a wonderful navigator, has been used to us having Google do the routing and needs her glasses to read a phone now.
After buying a phone mount in the suburban mall, we have made it to our lovely hotel.
Still deciding on an appropriate (possibly Māori?) name for the car.
Christchurch is called the ‘Garden City’. It was settled by the British in 1848 and officially became a city in 1856, making it the oldest city in New Zealand. The city is very reminiscent of England; many of the street names are English universities and poets, and the Avon River runs peacefully through town. Our beautiful hotel is right beside Hagley Park which is home to the Botanical Garden.
Lunch was at C1 Espresso, an old telegraph office, where burgers and fries were delivered to our table via overhead pneumatic tubes! Their water dispensers are made from a dentist sink and a sewing machine. The entrance to the bathrooms is through a moving bookcase; washrooms were glittery and had Star Wars characters on the doors. Dave peed with Han Solo, Kris with Princess Leía.
New Zealand cuisine is influenced by the Americas as well as Europe and South Asia. We have lots of choices for dinner here: Mexican, Indian, Thai, pretty much anything you can think of. Tonight, we chose a place just down the block. Kris had a wonderful salmon and Dave got his first New Zealand lamb dinner.