christchurch pt 2

My 20th birthday involved a lot of delicious food and beers. We started at Smash Palace, which is one of Christchurch’s regeneration-type projects where they take dead space where they tore down buildings and turn it into something cool. This corner they turned into an outdoor bar where there are two busses inside, and you order your drink from the window of the bus. Cool! A blue cheese burger was consumed that day.

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After taking advantage of some other drink specials many hours later, we hit up a really good vietnamese restaurant and Lauren had his first pho. The day ended with some live music and some ginger beer. It was a great day with a few great (new but great!) friends. I like to think I saved some money on hostels when I lived in the van, but I probably spent the equivalent amount of money on chai lattes and beer (cafes and bars are the best places to get someone to fill up your 8 2L water bottles).

For the whole time we were in Christchurch, we mostly stayed in Sumner, which is a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Christchurch. It has awesome surf, an awesome beach and is pretty laid back. It was hit really hard by the earthquake but it was a great spot to park (cold shower! ample seating! flush toilets!). It was so good that we actually met other people almost daily who were also parking there.. a couple from France, an Aussie climber, and a surfer dude. Also, the park beside the road had entertainment like bagpipe Sundays (errrggghhh) and kids birthday parties. (That family definitely uses Pinterest) It was quite silly because the van has a bit of a loose fan belt so we got stuck a few times where we couldn’t move the car because the screeching would damage the kids/bagpiper’s ear drums.

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Bookme.com had a deal where if you book surfboards in advance you could get a 24 hour rental for $20. DEAL! We did that, but it turned out that there was no surf that day. We fooled around in the waves, but I really need a lesson. Quite badly.

We then realized that it was near impossible to sleep in the van with the surfboards.. oops! I texted Robyn (Kat’s Dal friend that I mentioned earlier) and conveniently she had a house in Sumner AND was coming back that day. Yay hot shower!!! The next day we ended up climbing (as mentioned before) at Castle Hill. Here are some more pictures:

On the way back we also did Cave Stream, which is a 45 minute cave with a.. duh.. stream through it. It was fun!! We still had the wet suits so I was nice and toasty.. too warm even!

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They were active days for sure.. in two days I went caving, rock climbing, bouldering and surfing!

The last full two days in Christchurch, after Lauren finished work, we drove up to Hamner Springs Thermal Pools which is basically tourist extreme central. It took us ages to find a place to park the van without a no camping van. We spent the day lounging around in hot pools, which was pretty fun. Too hot though. They had maybe six kinds of pools, and there were a bajillion tourists there. I liked the coolest ones the best and the sulphur pools the worst (smelly and WAY TOO HOT). But I got to wear my flamingo bathing suit so I was happy.

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Over the course of this time, more climbing was done.. and I led my first 21! Sloppily, and hanging off each draw, but I DID IT! This is a HUGE progress point from where I started at the beginning of the summer. It was supposed to give me more motivation to stay in shape but I have been a bit of a blobby blob so far.

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castle hill again!

I am skipping ahead a bit, but I just got some pictures from Robyn and would like to share them! On Waitangi Day (a stat holiday in NZ), Lauren, Robyn, Lauren’s friend Warrick and I drove to Castle Hill and Cave Stream. Robyn is one of Kat’s Dal friends! I had planned to meet up with her all along, and it finally worked out towards the end of the trip. Robyn was gracious enough to let us store the surf boards we rented on her lawn (more info about this in a future post) and use her shower.

Here are some pictures that Robyn took! They look cool!!

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These pictures really capture the beauty of the area! They are great.

I am in the purple, Lauren is in the blue tshirt and Warrick is the one not wearing a shirt.

castle hill

Castle Hill is a bouldering area near Arthur’s pass which is very, very beautiful. Arthur’s Pass is half way in between the East and the West coast… the pass (duh) to get across. We met up with some other uni tramping club friends of Craig and Pia’s and did a day of bouldering.

We took our time on the way there and stopped in Greymouth and in Murchison for pies (mmmm). A few other places as well, it was very relaxed.

I am not that good at bouldering… it requires a totally different mindset to route climbing and I am not very good at it.. yet! It was a bit pathetic when we first got there and tried to do some of the routes.. we looked a little floppy. Eventually, more of their friends showed up and they helped us out a lot. There were a bunch of us! Some kiwis, some Canadians, one Danish, some Italians, some British.. etc. It was a really great group of people and we had a big communal meal together.

The day was HOT (a turkey baster) and a lot of the day was spent in the shade. We went swimming at a nearby lake which was.. cold.

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yasawa’s – waya lailai island

The last place I stayed at was the most memorable.. it was really a great time. The resort (Waya Lailai) was collectively owned by a village. As soon as we stepped off the boat, all the workers ran up to us and started introducing themselves and hugging us. There were only 9-12 people staying there when we were there which was really too bad because it was a lot of fun. I stayed in the 5-bed dorm and met some girls from Austria, England and Germany. They were really nice and we did pretty much everything together. It was also the only place where I met guests that were staying in one place for an extended period of time.

Lunch

The second day a bunch of us went snorkeling with reef sharks. I don’t know why I decided to do it because swimming with the manta ray was so traumatizing but YOFO (you’re only in Fiji once… which is also inaccurate, pretty sure I like this place enough to come back). We snorkeled with 4 reef sharks, the longest ones being 4 or 5 feet. The sharks must have thought I was cool because they really liked to high five (high fin?) me. Or slap me with their tail. The guides were catching smaller fish with a spear and then shredding them so that the sharks would get closer. The sharks kept coming closer and closer to me and chowing down on their food in front of my face (uh, scary) and I didn’t realize until after when Corey told me that I was swimming right where they were throwing the fish pieces. Oops.

That’s my knee haha

Climbing in a bathing suit and sulu is kind of silly

This island was extra exciting because there was some bouldering/climbing! There was one big volcanic rock (oh conglomerates and beautiful breccia, big earth science nerd right here) that we could boulder on right by the ocean. It was sweet.

Later that day, almost everyone in the resort decided to do the hike on the island (it’s one of the best in the area) up to Vatuvula Peak. It is 349 m to the top and looks a lot like the Stawamus Chief in Squamish. Made me miss home a bit. I was not feeling so hot on this hike at all (either the water or the food was not making me feel good) and it was not my classiest moments, but it was an awesome hike! You could either go to the almost peak, or scramble/climb up to the top so naturally I went to the top (no regrets). There were a couple of places along the way that I pulled on my climbing shoes and sat on top of boulders.

The last night we all stayed up ‘late’ and drank kava with the villagers. It was good fun and like being back in Bureta.

On the last day, a whale swam by between the island we were staying on and the one across the channel. We think it was a humpback whale. Apparently it is pretty rare to see whales there, I think it was a sign.

There were definitely some negatives about this last place (feeling so sick and my bed definitely had bed bugs), but I loved it and I’d love to return. I have really great memories from this place.

Kuata, Waya Lailai and Waya Island – view from the flyer

In the late afternoon of the last place, we packed up all our stuff and hopped back on the transfer boat. It was fun running back into Kaula and Stefanie and other people we saw at the past resorts. I got back to Suva later that night with an intense tan and swollen snorkeling lips.

Kaula and Stef had one extra day in Fiji, so they actually decided to pop over to Suva for the day. We had a delicious (and relatively upscale) Indian lunch (soo tasty, yum!!) and showed them the market, flea market and a few sights. We took them to USP and showed them around there too. It was good fun and great to see them again.