May 2015

Back in Queenstown Heli and I reconnected with Flo, who could not stop giggling at his video of himself bungee jumping (plug in your headphones):

I’ll admit it’s kind of funny but not nearly as funny as Flo thought it was. Sorry Flo.

With our trio reunited, we spent our last few days together hiking in the wind and the rain, up the snowy paths of Mount Cook and across Mount John in Tekapo. I know I am always talking about the scenery but seriously, it was beautiful. The hills seemed to be chiseled out of the ground, with waterfalls springing out of rocks at random. I’ll stop trying to describe it and let the photos do it for me.

We parked Barney next to Lake Pukaki for a serene and tranquil night, pictured below. That is until dusk fell and the winds picked up to the point where we were worried that Barney would tip over. I had been sleeping each night in the pull-out loft area of Barney near the ceiling, but in the middle of the night I woke up from the howling wind and crawled down to sleep with Heli and Flo on the pull-out below. It made me feel safer to be consolidating our body mass lower in the vehicle and make it less top-heavy. Likely it wouldn’t have made a difference either way but it helped me sleep.

Despite our concerns that Barney was already a little too tipsy, we threw Barney a grand goodbye party. We threw such a good party that we almost didn’t get to Christchurch the next morning in time for Flo to go whale watching. Miraculously the bus he needed to catch at 7am was running as late as we were, and he made it to his whale watching trip. Heli and I cleaned out Barney and tearfully said goodbye. Our sorrow was soon washed away as we showered for the first time since Queenstown, and we were gloriously squeaky clean again.

As you may remember there was a huge earthquake in Christchurch in 2011 (four years before I visited) which killed 185 people. Walking around we could see that the city was still trying to rebuild and recover. There was a lot of road construction, and many newly built public works of art, almost bright and cheery. It felt empty, like more people were missing than had been lost.

The next day I said a genuinely teary goodbye, this time to Heli and Flo who were flying to Australia where they were continuing their travels. Once again it was a transition to being on my own after continuously and constantly having company for two weeks. I didn’t want to just sit in Christchurch feeling lonely and wait for my own flight in a few days, so I took one last solo adventure to Oamaru to see the penguins. It was a small, quieter town with historic and grand buildings that a colony of blue penguins called home. I didn’t see many penguins but I befriended a sleeping seal.

Back in Christchurch I packed up my bottles of wine and headed to the airport. I had a short flight to Auckland before a long haul to LA, then up to San Francisco for a week before heading home. Speaking of which, where was home now?


Categories: New Zealand

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