Mid-Semester Break Road Trip: Part 4- Akaroa and Home
The drive into Christchurch from Arthur’s Pass was unbelievable. It always seemed as though we were driving into, away from, and beside the mountains. There were beautiful snow capped peaks in every single direction. It was incredible. The Southern Alps of New Zealand never fail to amaze. As we got closer to Christchurch there were more and more fields and farms, but this time as we passed by the sheep filled pastors, there were also all sorts of adorable newly born lambs. Since I have been here I have definitely seen my fair share of sheep, however this was the first time that I could remember seeing a lamb. They were just these tiny little white fluffy looking animals that still had their tails, and ears that are quite disproportionate to the size of the rest of their body. We usually saw them in pairs with a mother sheep prancing around across the green grass. Watching them out the window, I couldn’t help but crack a smile and occasionally a little laugh. We quickly passed through the outskirts of Christchurch and made our way out towards the peninsula and Akaroa, where we would be staying. The country out this was extremely rural and kind of reminded me of a larger Otago Peninsula. We rounded the corner of the hills that we had been climbing in the car to see a beautiful view of an inlet into the Peninsula and down below the small town of Akaroa. The water was a vivid blue that starkly contrasted with the big rolling green hills surrounding it. Akaroa was what I would deem your typical small beach town, but with a starkly French flavor. The town was lined by a fantastic walking path right along the coast and on a sunny day like we had, we couldn’t help but decide to take a plunge in the winter waters. While it was quite warm out with the sun beating down on our shoulders, that was not the case for the ocean water. It was freezing, so we quickly ran in, dunked, and ran back out. Although it may have only been a quick swim, I can now say that I have swam in the South Pacific in the dead of winter. We continued through the adorable slow moving town, and decided to get drinks down at a café on the coast as the sun set. I had a delicious Raspberry Hot Chocolate and enjoyed sipping the warm drink as the sun descended past the other side of the hills. We had a relaxing night, at what must have been one of the cutest hostels in all of New Zealand.
The next morning I woke up early and too a stroll down the coast while everybody else proceeded to sleep in a little bit. It was wonderful to feel the sun, smell the surf, and hear the seagulls in the background. I got a very nice latte from a café and took it back to the hostel where I sat in the sun all morning sipping on my drink and soaking up some morning rays. When everybody else got up, we decided we needed to do something active today. So we split into two groups, one was going to go for a short hike, and the other was going to bike along the coast with the bikes that our hostel lends out. I chose to go for a bit of a cruise on the bike because since being in New Zealand I had not been on a bike. It was a blast riding along on the left side of the road, checking out the coast, the lighthouse in Akaroa, and the beautiful scenery. It was a great way to spend the last part of our break. We had a nice Indian dinner together that night and then called it an early night with the hopes of hitting the road early the next day to get back to Dunedin.
We hit the road the next day as the sun was rising and just hitting the tops of the hills. The roads were empty which was nice for the long trip we had ahead of us back to Dunedin. We had decided the day before to take a stop at Moeraki Boulders for lunch, which I was looking forward to. The drive to there was pretty uneventful and I even got to take a turn at the steering wheel. When we arrived at Moeraki Boulders we got our lunches, and walked to the coast where the boulders were supposed to be. The coastline was beautiful with a large plain of perfectly soft, grainy sand. In the distance we could see the boulders that were several perfect spheres of rock. The rocks were fascinating in their shape and I still don’t understand how they came to be perfectly circular. We ate lunch on top of the rocks in the sun and then hopped back in the car. We pulled into Dunedin 45 minutes later, our trip had now ended. I hopped out of the car with a sense of accomplishment for having seen such amazing places in the course of the week. Being on this road trip reminded me of the original reason I had decided to come to New Zealand, for the natural beauty that it has and to get to explore it all. The trip was a success and got me excited to plan for more trips in the future.