Thursday, March 31, 2011

Goodbye Nelson, Hello Flying Kiwi #3

I spent three days in Nelson before I hopped back on the Flying Kiwi bus. It was great to be able to see my friends again (even though a few were a bit confused because I had said goodbyes in case I didn’t make it back) and have a bit of time to gather my thoughts in “solo-travel mode” before spending a week with a busload of people! I spent the days wandering town, swimming in the Maitai River (at my favorite swimming hole, of course), catching up online at the library and blogging. The evenings I spent with climber friends. We had our usual Thursday night climb followed by drinks at the Free House (complete with adorable puppy!)

That night it was decided that we would return the next night (where else would we go?) in “fancy dress,” just for fun! It’s always fun when you can get a whole group of people on board to dress up!

We looked pretty good for a bunch of climbers, so naturally had to have a modeling shoot.

There were some dipping lessons from our resident ballerina.

Who definitely showed us how it was done!

And overall we had a great night!

The next day we had a nice afternoon climb and I tackled the long roof!

Sometimes when you’re up on a wall and leave your camera sitting out, there’s no telling what pictures will appear on your memory card!

Although climbing is fun, I guess some people need more entertainment.

I said my goodbyes and boarded the Flying Kiwi bus bright and early on Sunday morning. It was good to see my very first driver, Holly, who was also driving this leg of my trip! The guide, Brett, was new, and we headed over to Picton to pick up the rest of the crew. Most of the group had come down from the North Island on the ferry the day before, so I had lots of new faces to meet!

From Picton we drove south along the coast towards Kaikoura. We stopped at a lookout to see some seals (Lou and I happened to stop the same place the week before!) and some of us took advantage of the first South Island cycling adventure to ride into Kaikoura from there!

It was a beautiful ride along the coast and gives you a much different perspective to see it from a bike than a car or bus! We met the bus back in town and were dropped at a coastal walk that takes you around the tip of Kaikoura’s peninsula.

There were nice views of the surrounding bays and rocky coastlines, as well as some curious cows along the way!

That night we camped by the beach and some people (including my tentmate, Sophia) got up wicked early for the dolphin swim the next day. Since I had just gone with Louise, I got to sleep in a bit! We spent a good amount of the day driving and stopped at Gore bay for a break since we couldn’t go to downtown Christchurch. On the way through Christchurch, we stopped off at the airport and picked up a few newcomers (including a couple of online travel-blogging celebrities, Dave and Deb from The Planet D). It was nice to chat with Deb and Dave, and gain a better understanding about how one travels for a living and manages to get by!

Holly stopped along the road and got out bikes for that day’s ride into camp along the Rangitata River. I believe we were told that the 20k ride was “undulating” but we cycled some major hills that day! Some of the riders with powerhouse legs were off in the distance but I was lucky enough to have Naomi for company. Neither of us were in a rush and we had a nice chat along the way!

We had a BBQ that night and hung around camp getting to know some of the other flying kiwis. There was plenty of wind and rain throughout the night, but the weather cleared up in time for some white water rafting in the morning! It was a great start to my longest leg of the Flying Kiwi bus and I was happy to get to know so many good people! Though most of the people who use Flying Kiwi (as I had experienced before) are only in the country for a short amount of time, it’s been a wonderful opportunity to meet others from all corners of the world!

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