Tonight’s our last night in New Zealand, and we spent the day doing a bus tour of the Christchurch CBD Red Zone and driving around the eastern suburbs, of which more in another blog post, because it was frankly too emotionally draining to deal with right now.
In the meantime, we did a frantic tour of the northern South Island over the weekend – flying to Nelson on Thursday, driving over to Blenheim later that evening (by which read “very late indeed that evening”), spending the day in Blenheim on Friday, and driving to Christchurch on saturday. (The whole thing would have been slightly more relaxing if “wireless internet available” at motels in New Zealand hadn’t turned out to mean “wireless internet available at prices that are more appropriate to the 1990s” both motels we stayed at, but live and learn and hope for infrastructure improvements, I suppose.) The most important thing was that we got word from our friends in Christchurch that our newly visa-adorned passports had been received on the Friday, so we could be assured that we were actually going to be able to catch our flights back on the following Tuesday.
After all that domestic US flying, the plane to Nelson seemed impossibly casual. Of course, it’s barely a flight worthy of the name – necessitated only by Cook Strait – at twenty-five minutes, meaning you spend most of your time taking off and landing. The planes are tiny little fifteen or twenty-seaters, and you stroll out onto the tarmac unimpeded by metal
detectors or other security measures. It’s quite relaxing, really. Fortunately for us, the weather was good, and we had some stunning aerial views of Mike’s old stomping grounds in the Marlborough Sounds.
Pretty much every minute in Nelson and Blenheim was taken up with visiting relatives, but we got a chance to relax on the drive down from Blenheim to Christchurch. One of the conversations you have very very often with people in America, as a New Zealander, is the “New Zealand is so beautiful!” conversation. Well, it’s not a conversation so much as an adjunct to the three types of conversation about New Zealand one has in America, namely Type A (“I went there and it was beautiful!”), Type B (“My cousin/friend/dogwalker/neighbour’s child’s teacher went there and said it was beautiful!”)and Type C (“I’ve always wanted to go there because I’ve heard it’s so beautiful!”). These are flattering to us as a country or at least our tourism PR campaigns, but awkward in practice because Kiwis are socialised out of agreeing with compliments. Personally, I usually have to suppress a strong urge to explain all about our dairy industry and terrible river pollution. The point is, actually, after being away for a couple of years and driving a lot on American interstates, which are dire scenery-wise, actually New Zealand is quite beautiful, and next time I am embarked on Type A conversations, I will nod and show people these photos.