I flew into Christchurch, which as we all know has been devastated by a nasty run of earthquakes. It was really hit badly, I have never seen a city hit so hard. It really looks like the scene out of a post apocalyptic movie. The main downtown area is all gated off and guarded by the military, like some kind of quarantine. They will end up loosing over 1,000 buildings, thats not to mention the 3,000 red snickered homes that will need to be taken down as well. Christchurch is the heart of the southern island here its really sad to se all the devastation. Here I got to stay with my wonderful cousin Rita and her husband Alan. They opened up there home for me to stay, which was so great after months without family or a solid place to rest. We had a great time, despite all the trials they have been through recently. We laughed alot, had some great meals and talks together, and I gave them a hand with a few little trouble areas of their house, which has actually stayed together quite well. They live in one of the most beautiful places I have seen on my travels, overlooking the pacific ocean where they can see a spectacular sun rise. Whenever I tell other Kiwis where my cousin lives they say what a nice place it is. Rita and Alan also sent me off with a car to take on my journey, and its a stick shift and yes they drive on the other side of the road. This added to my adventure.
After a much needed week and a half, it was off north to try my hand with a bit of pruning at a winery. The place is called Antills Winery, and they make a killer Pino Noir wine. Janice and Julian shared with me all the secrets that they picked up over the years and it was very inspiring. I would say that I am ready to plant a bit of a vineyard when I get home, after a bit of research of course. we also had great talks of politics and religion, which I think are excellent topics of conversation and are widely regarded as taboo. It was great fun, drinking wine and watching some South park with their son Rauld. It was here that Sarumon hit my with a freak snow storm, the likes of which haven't been seen in years, but being the harry hobbit that I am I forged on pruning on the storm. I Also had an interesting adventure on a tourist train, that I had to jump off whilst moving otherwise I may have been stuck in the wrong town. I had a great time with this super cool family, and a great place to get some killer Pino. They sent me on a quest with a bottle of their wine and one of their Apricot Liquor to give to some friends in the North.
On my way through the misty mountains I met with a wood elf friend and her clan at the ski fields above Hanma Springs. I stayed with them for a few nights, drinking spirits and smoking the longbottom leaf in the night, along with trying to tame the wild mountain by day. My snow boarding level is low, but I tangoed with the rope toe beast, and got my ass handed to me a few times, but after a while I got the hang of it. It was great to get together with Abbie again, after hanging out in Thailand and Lao.
I had kept my fateful steed in the parking lot below, and when I met back up with the White Honda stallion, which I now call Shadowfax, it was through the mountain pass to Takaka. Traveling swiftly through the land of the Long White Cloud was beautiful, and I spent one night with the steed. I hiked around Takaka, which as a place, really reminded my of Santa Cruz, you know the whole, where the mountains meet the sea, along with plenty of VW busses and old connoisseurs' of the Longbottom leaf. Here I was almost taken by some retched quick sand but I managed to escape with my life. I completed my quest and was rewarded with two nights rest and some killer dinners from Reg and Claire, friends of Janice and Julians. Also I helped shovel some hours manure into a truck. This place was Santa Cruzes dopelganger I swear.
From there it was down the costal Highway 1 back to Wiapara for the night at the winery, a quick day of pruning and back to Christchurch for the arrival of my father in two days time. Its been a blast and if you ever get a chance, take a trip to Middle Earth, who knows maybe you will meet Gandalf, I know I did. I will report back in a week or two with the exciting conclusion to the Trip Around the World, and if anyone is interested we are having a get together at the shop/ranch to celebrate the end of the trip. Its on September 17, hope to see you there and if I don't just remember, all who wander aren't lost, but most that wonder are confused, or something like that.