Friday, 19 October 2012

Christchurch - the Final Frontier (of my Ancestors)

(Some Christchurch humour)
Monday 17/9
Continuing from last entry, I had gotten the bus from Dunedin, got off at Hornby and picked up by Erika, my workmate from my time at Corrections. Had a good catch up that evening.

Tuesday 18/9
I spent the day doing my washing and planning the rest of my week, including organising my flight back to Auckland on Sunday morning. I booked a flight using my air points generated from the trip to London in 2009.
(This is the new mall, constructed from cargo containers)
Wednesday 19/9
I went into Christchurch with Phil, Erika's husband, on his way to work. I eventually worked out the maze that is now the CBD and got to the i-Site. I organised a red zone tour and booked a cheap rental car for Friday to go to Oxford in North Canterbury (where my ancestors had come from). From there I went to Archives New Zealand to do some research. Came back to i-Site and did the red zone tour. I had been warned that some people didn't think it was worth doing. For the price it wasn't too bad, although it certainly wasn't as dramatic as I imagined - I guess because all the images I had seen were from the day after the quakes, and of course now everything was demolished and/or cleaned up. I was feeling rundown after that so I sat about for a while, before dragging myself to the Christchurch hospital (not for medical reasons, but because it was where one of the few BNZ banks still stand in Christchurch, and I knew there would be a cafeteria. My overall impression of Christchurch in 2012 was that it reminded me a lot of Belfast, less the murals and bomb-proof trucks.
(The Christchurch Cathedral)
Thursday 20/9
Went into town again with Phil and attended a Genealogy Society meeting, I had rung them on Tuesday and mentioned my Christchurch ancestors in the hope someone may've researched them already, unfortunately no one had, but they did prepare some books for me to look at, and were helpful in general, although one lady kept giving me things that may have related but in the end were just more things to sift through - info overload.

Friday 21/9
Got a ride into town with Phil again, and went hard out around some car wreckers in the CBD looking for a particular part for my car (an internal plastic panel - I want one from a better spec car, as  they come with a rear speaker and grill) I predicted that Christchurch may be the place to find some, as it is about 3 times bigger than Hamilton, and of course had been through an earthquake, potentially writing a few more cars off.

After that I went and picked up my rental car, and headed back to Archives New Zealand to complete my research there. I had done the hard yards the night before, and got all the things I wanted sourced into a list, so I could just give it to them and they could go get them. That worked well, especially considering how much I had to look through. I had an interesting chat to someone else researching there, but in the end wished he would just let me get through what I had. At closing time, about 1pm my new friend had left, and the Archives staff said I was free to finish off looking at what I had - they just couldn't tell me that when the other guy was around as he was hard enough to get rid of at closing time most days. As it was I didn't require much more time there, and I was eager to get to Oxford.

On the way to Oxford I stopped to get some petrol. While I was in the shop paying for it there was a huge BANG. I thought it was just a truck going past, but apparently it was an earthquake.
I got to Oxford and spent about an hour at the museum before it closed at 3pm. I then had a quick look at Pearson park next door, and the cemetery down the road, where some of the Pearsons were buried. From there I decided to go and see Burnt Hill - the station where Joseph Pearson (my 3 x Great grandfather's brother) had farmed. On the way there, just off the main road I had to cross a small ford - with all the gravel I got stuck for a little bit, until a guy in a ute came the other way, and I asked him for a small push, which he humbly obliged. For a moment there I was a little worried, especially being a rental car and all.
At Burnt Hill there was this long drive, and I didn't think it right to drive down and have a look at the house - as I'm not sure how cool my story of how "My 3 x great grandfather's brother was Joseph Pearson" would be received.
From Burnt Hill I headed to View Hill - where Joseph's first house was. Unfortunately it wasn't as clear where exactly it was, I found View Hill School, but there are plenty of hills around there.
From there, I figured I may as well head north and find Lake Pearson, despite it getting late in the day. The journey took me through Springfield, pictured here with the Doughnut - given to the community when The Simpsons movie came out, as apparently they gave every town in the world called Springfield one.  This other picture shows how some cheeky person has capitalised on the landmark.
It also took me into the Southern alps, which of course looked beautiful with the sun setting.
Eventually I made it to Lake Pearson, it wasn't the easiest trip because it wasn't a location of note on my GPS, so I did have to guess a little bit to work out where it was. Unfortunately as you can see it was dark so I didn't get to appreciate it in it's full daylight splendour. Never mind, now I know where it is, and especially that you can camp there, I may very well be going back. Coming back to Christchurch was also an adventure in itself, driving in an unfamiliar car, on unfamiliar roads.
Saturday 22/9
I got up and made a quick visit to a couple of wreckers before dropping off my rental car. From there I went to the Christchurch library and went through all their genealogy card files (with the surnames of my ancestors) and photographed any that were relevant. About lunch time Erika, Phil, and the boys came and picked me up and we all went to the heritage village - a museum place with old trams and houses, set up how they would have been in Christchurch's early days. Erika had a joke by telling her kids that this place showed how things were when Phil was a boy, and the kids believed her.
Sunday 23/9
Got up and Phil took me to the airport. I flew back to Auckland and was picked up by my old school mate James. Some of James's friends were having a cook breakfast together, so we went along to that as well, which was great.

Mum and Dad then picked me up before lunch and we went to our old friends the Manson's, and had a two-family reunion, ie with all the kids and grandkids, not too hard a feet with our family (now we are all back in NZ) but the Manson's have four kids, all married, and three of them have had children. It was nice having a good catch up.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Dunedin - Edinburgh of the South

Saturday 15/9
Got up and sorted situation with room (they had put me in a room temporarily for the first night, as the person who took the booking hadn't written me in). I then went and sorted out breakfast and then sorted out my sightseeing in Dunedin, and the bus to Christchurch on Monday. My watch seems to have defaulted back to 12am 1/1/2000 - probably needs new battery. From the i-Site I went to today's sight- the Taieri railway, on the way to the train station I Saw Martin Tasker (broadcaster) and Buck Shelford (former All Black captain) within a minute of each other.
The Taieri gorge train trip was awesome - great views, and informative. Only downside was all the noisy kids in my carriage (makes me question my desire to have kids soon, but then I'm only wanting 2, and then I'm tying it off...) but the nice conductor guy allowed me and another young couple respite for the 1st half of the journey by allowing us to sit in the other part of the carriage (on the return journey those seats were taken).

After arriving back at the train station there was someone from the tour company there to meet me, and he dropped me back at my hostel. I hadn't really had lunch, so I went in pursuit of dinner on my way to the pub to watch the All Blacks play South Africa. I settled on lamb biranyi for $12. I went to the closest pub, an Irish pub - it was full inside, but it had an outside area with a screen but had to put up with annoying smokers. Bring on 2020 when NZ will be smokefree.

Sunday 16/9
Got up and was picked up from my hostel by the same tour company, and they took me out to Larnach castle. I had feared that it would be a glorified house, and in some ways I guess it was, but it was an interesting house/"castle" all the same - I enjoyed it, far more than I had enjoyed Buckingham Palace, and almost as much as I enjoyed Neuschwanstein castle. I don't know what it was, perhaps it appealed to the history I have been getting into with my family history research, or perhaps it was that for an hour or so I felt like I was back in England or Europe, minus all the B.S.

Anyhow, once we'd done Larnach castle, the driver was dropping one of the couples off at the train station (so they could go do the Taieri gorge trip), so I hopped out there too, and went and checked out the NZ Sporting Hall of Fame, which was housed in the upstairs of the train station. It was kind of interesting, spotted the odd name of sporting heroes from the time of my childhood - wasn't so much contemporary stuff naturally, as they have to have been retired for a certain amount of time, however of course, Mark Todd seems to come in and out of retirement every Olympics, and he was in there.
Just down the road was the Chinese gardens, so I had a quick look in there as well. Apparently "The Dunedin Chinese Garden is the only authentic Chinese Garden in New Zealand. It is one of only a handful outside China." according to the Dunedin council's website. I know Hamilton gardens has a Chinese garden, but certainly not of that size, from memory I believe it has a wall, and a tree... Anyhow, on first look it might seem weird to have a Chinese garden in Dunedin, a "Scotch stronghold" (Dunedin is gaellic for Edinburgh, and a whole lot of Scots came there - and hence why Otago Uni has the cross of St Andrew in its coat of arms, and the Super 15 team is the Highlanders...) but on second thoughts, a lot of Chinese came out for the Otago gold rush, and ended up staying and forming a lot of Dunedin businesses. On an aside note, recently I heard someone saying something interesting - apparently a key ingredient to assimilation is children, going to school with children from other races, however, in the case of the Chinese, back in the day, there was a poll tax and Alien laws, which prevented men from bringing over their wives and kids, and so the Chinese have missed out on several generations of assimilation for that reason.
A little later in the day I caught up with Laura, and her boyfriend Kriton, friends from my time at The Listening Company. Afterwards they dropped me off at the Forsyth Barr stadium - I wanted to have a look, as it is New Zealand's only covered in stadium.

Monday 17/9
I got up nice and early, and headed off. I wanted to check out a book I had come across mentioned in an another book, that I had discovered the Otago University had - basically it was a book of all the Brands used by run-holders in Canterbury - which of course my 3xGreat Grandfather's brother, Joseph Pearson was one. I had enough time to go and have a look, so I did, and took a photo of the relevant page, the brands of Joseph Pearson weren't anything special, one was simply "SP". I have no desire to get a tattoo, but admittedly for a fleeting moment had toyed with the idea if the brand was particularly cool. It wasn't, so there goes that hard decision.

From there I went and dropped off my big pack at the bus station, and went around the corner to CadburyWorld, where I had booked a 10am tour. The tour was OK, got a decent amount of free chocolate out of it, but wasn't particularly interesting. I was surprised however at how people-intensive it still was to make/package the chocolate.
After that I went and hopped on my bus to Christchurch.

Stewart island - How Low Can You Go?

Tuesday 11/9
Got up, and went down and sorted out accommodation on Stewart island (we'd tried, but couldn't get hold of them by phone) and the bus to Dunedin on Friday. We had just enough time to find out accommodation in Dunedin for the weekend would be hard to find, due to an All Blacks match being played there. Anyhow, went and caught my bus. In Queenstown it had snowed over night, and as we left it began snowing a little. As we got further down Lake Whakatipu, the snow got serious.
At a place called Athol we had to stop for a while as the road was closed, so I had a toilet stop and hot chocolate. All of a sudden we got going again, albeit slowly. It seemed once we got out of Otago and into Southland, the snow totally cleared up, and made the last hour seem like another lifetime.
Even with the delay due to the snow, I had the best bit of 3 hours in Invercargill before I had to catch my transfer to the ferry terminal in Bluff. So the first thing I did was sort out some accommodation in Dunedin for the weekend, thanks to the help of the lovely i-Site staff. I then went about looking at the attached museum, which was totally awesome, they had tuatara, art, a couple of things on local hero Burt Munro - of the Fastest Indian fame, including a video documentary, some Victorian era exhibits, and also a section on the southern islands, such as Auckland Island, Campbell Island, the Snare Islands, etc.
After doing all that I had about half an hour left, and thought maybe I should grab some milk and more cash, and lunch, as I hadn't really thought about it due to the loss of my appetite after the food poisoning in Wanaka (and it was now 3pm). In the end I just grabbed some milk and 2 slices of bacon and egg pie. I ate 1 slice of the pie, which was beautiful, but now wish I had held off until after the ferry trip, as I threw it back up on the rough ferry ride.

Anyhow, once I checked in to my hostel on Stewart island I went to the pub and had fish and chips.

Wednesday 12/9
Woke up full of a cold at about 6:30am, stayed in bed reading until about 9:30. Got up and had some breakfast, and then casually walked towards the i-Site. I passed the museum, and thought I may as well check it out. I did, didn't take long as only 2 rooms but well worth the $2 fee. I had to laugh as there was a picture of a woman who had two daughters that married two brothers. Later on that woman then married the father of the brothers (ie doing little to dispel rumours of inbreeding on small islands). I had a good chat to the woman on the desk, and she mentioned Ulva island which I intended to do, she rang the water taxi company and informed me I could catch one in 20 minutes, so I did.
Ulva island was awesome, birds, beaches, trees, and seals. Again had to laugh when a pamphlet on birds mentioned that one bird ended up mating with his great great granddaughter. Ulva is pest free, so it is used by D.O.C. to protect and breed species. Broke my southern most record again (southern most place in the world I have been). Funny story - I had been reading a book I had picked up in Wanaka, which happened to mention something called Ambergris, which I had never heard of. Anyhow, as it always is, once you learn a new word, or learn a new fact, you happen to come across it several times relatively soon. As I walked along the above beach I came across something grey and clay looking that I thought may be some ambergris, but got quickly convinced otherwise when I saw the blowfly in it and the proximity of some more, and of course the close proximity of the seal pictured below.
When I came back I walked around to Thule bay, and then through another bushwalk, up to a lookout, and then along another bushwalk, in the hope of seeing some Kiwis or the Southern Lights.
Came back, had a quick lie down, had some soup and checked out the kea/kakapo that were hanging about the hostel then went back to see if the kiwis had come out (hadn't) with some others. I then come down to have a look to see what the story with penguins was. Sounds scarce. Since it started to rain a bit I decided a pub meal was in order. Instead of $16.50 on eftpos they put through $61.50, which actually worked for me as it gave me some cash. Had another look for kiwi, no luck. Went to bed and read for a bit.

Thursday 13/9
Stayed in bed for a while, read. Got up, had shower and then turned on tv to watch while I ate breakfast. Saw Hamish Blake (as in Hamish and Andy - Australian comedy duo/ radio djs) and Bret Mackenzie (Flight of the Conchords) were to be on Good Morning a bit later on, so sat through all the advertorials (Suzanne Paul and some annoying enthusiastic Aussie dude) and finally they appeared. Once that had happened I decided I may as well have an early lunch - so I had a sour cream and chives pasta packet I have been carrying with me. It seemed bland, but that might be my cold.

Anyway, went to the i-Site, and from there decided to walk to a lighthouse. I think the lady made it sound easier than it was. It was nice and peaceful, and I saw an old stone building which is one of the oldest buildings in New Zealand apparently. The lighthouse was a bit budget, I was hoping for a old concrete one, where this was a new small glorified beacon. I decided while I was at it I would check out a monument on the way back. Unfortunately the map was a bit misleading, and lead me to make some wasted effort, but in the end I got there, albeit I was over walking by the time I got back to the township. I had a crayfish for dinner as I figured when in Rome... I'm not sure if it was because I have a cold, but I thought it was bland. I checked my emails then returned to the hostel to read and watch tv for a bit. I would have liked to go out again to see if I could see kiwi, but I was just too stuffed.

Friday 14/9
Woke up just before 7am, decided I would try and see some kiwis, so walked up the bush walk behind the hostel, and through the park, gave it about 10minutes then left. Thought I'd go and look at the waterfront for a bit, bought something at the shop and then visited the information centre again, I decided I would do the van tour, as I might not see the rest of the island if I didn't, and I could face walking again, especially as this other way is more hilly. Besides, I figured it would give me a historical insight as well. Sorted myself out at hostel, including having some breakfast, and did the tour. It seemed to be hosting a Maori group of some kind, so it was quite humorous. Went to the pub for lunch - trying to manage my stomach for the journey across the straight again.

Got talking to some of the group on the way back, they were from a rugby club in Manukau, and have come down to see the all blacks game in Dunedin the next day. Got across ok, and on to Dunedin.
This was in the pub at Stewart Island. I thought the humour was good.

Wanaka - Wa Wa Wa Wa Wanna Car?

Friday 7/9
I caught the bus to Wanaka. Once I dumped my stuff at the hostel etc, I walked to Puzzling World, which I had seen in a magazine prior to coming across it (but not going into it) in 2003. There was an outdoor Labyrinth, which was ok, I did the 4 corners, but didn't bother trying to get back to the start, as it would have doubled the amount of time. The other part (illusion rooms) were interesting, but it didn't take long to go through, and it mucked havoc with my sense of balance. I walked back to hostel and slept.

Saturday 8/9
I got up and got a "bus" (it ended up being more of a shuttle service) from the i-Site to the Toy and Transport museum - which was good, huge and reasonably cheap. I had lunch in the cafe at the Warbirds and Wheels museum, before walking back to the Wanaka Beerworks, which was in the same premises as the Toy and Transport museum and partaking in a beer tour and tasting. Subsequently I checked out the Warbirds and Wheels museum - there wasn't a whole lot there, I managed to see it all in the 1/2 hour I had left, which is one of those things, it makes you content that you haven't missed out on anything, but at the same time disappointed that it wasn't all that fantastic.
In the evening I came down with the worst food poisoning I have ever had. The positive was I asked for and was given a bottom bunk in a less full room for the rest of my stay, which was a relief, as it would've been hell otherwise, especially as I got up at least 5 times that night.
Sunday 9/9
Recovery, and since I had done everything I had wanted to do in Wanaka anyway, I went for a walk beside lake. Beautiful white mountains. I went to the supermarket and bought my Paris speciality of croissants, cheese, and salami. More sleeping, and missed dinner again, I believe it was after the kitchen had closed, so I couldn't access my croissants, so I was weak and hungry still.

Monday 10/9
Woke up, checked out, walked along waterfront, and checked out the millennium project they had - basically 2000 paving stones representing 2000 years with notable events marked out eg 1066 Norman invasion. Some cheeky people had written on blank ones "Rufus and Jemima were here 2012...

Once I had accomplished that, I sat around at the backpackers until about the time of the bus.
I got back to Queenstown late afternoon, so I sorted my bags (I had only taken the bare-minimum to Wanaka in my little backpack) and the next few days travel plans out and did my washing, so nice to have clothes clean again.
Had a soup and the remaining croissants to soak it up (as well as using them up - similarly chewed on the salami to use it up too.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Getting Down in Queenstown: The Long Awaited Holiday

So I finally got my act together, made a decision, (Free choice is a privilege of the modern capitalist society, but sometimes life would be so much easier without the need to make choices) and packed my bags and got off the North Island. I decided on doing a trip around the South Island, and doing the things I didn't manage to do the first time - when I went around with friends in Summer, January 2003. I decided against anything international, simply because it would cost 10x more, and I didn't have a job/income to come back to, and it was adding another level of difficulty to the decision and planning.

I wrote most of the next few entries on my iPhone, on the Notes app, and then transferred them here. I am currently going through and editing them before posting, but you may notice the style being very "note-taking-like"

Tuesday 4/9
Dad drove me up to Auckland domestic airport, I hopped on a plane and viola! Queenstown. Plane didn't rev up like usual, disappointed, but when I got off the plane it was totally awesome - had to walk across the tarmac to the terminal - but with mountains with snow on the top as the backdrop - nice, and I'm not even a snow-bunny (I'm more of a water-baby, and it seems as though I have had 3 straight winters in a row at the moment.) I had done my research and saw that it was only 6km into town (and I had 2 hours before the hostel would let me check in, so I had contemplated hiking it, but then discovered it was only $6 for bus to town (I had a paranoia that Queenstown was going to be a tourist trap) so I took that option.

Dropped bags off (couldn't Check in until 1pm) at my hostel and proceeded to get lunch - across the road at Ferg burger, world famous in Queenstown apparently. I had the Big Al, and it really was big.
Afterwards I went for a walk and went to the underwater viewing room on the waterfront, which I remembered from 2003. It was still worth it, you get to see trout swimming around and every now and then a duck dives down for food. What surprised me (in 2003) is when the duck rises to the surface again, it tucks it's head into it's chest, I imagined it would have gone up nose first, but then I guess they would do it different to us as their nostrils are on the top of their nose, whereas ours are on the bottom.
That night I did a pub crawl. I saw they had one that went to an ice bar. You may have heard me mention that I have being wanting to visit an ice bar ever since 2010 when Merinda and I first stumbled upon the Absolut Ice Bar in London, which we never quite got to, and I missed out on going to the Auckland one. The pub crawl (and Ice Bar especially) was awesome. On the pub crawl I met some girls, including one from Hamilton, so will probably catch up again.
Wednesday 5/9
Got up and got the gondola up the hill and did the luge, always good fun.

On Monday night I had come across someone on Couchsurfing wanting someone to join them on a wine tasting thing - essentially as one of their mates pulled out. When the time came, they were too hungover, but I proceeded anyhow as the girls from the above mentioned pub crawl were apparently doing it too - but they never showed up either, so I was all alone, tasting wine in a shop (initially I assumed it might be in a nice winery or something,) I'm not a huge wine drinker as it is.
Thursday 6/9
There were 3 English guys in my room, and we'd gotten on on fairly well - they asked me if I wanted to join them climbing the hill (with the gondola and luges) so I did. Not an easy mission, but the luge rides were worth it. I was quite stoked on one of the runs I started at the back of the pack, but ended up winning. Once we got back down the hill we played a little bit of soccer, and had a beer.