January 19-22, 2013

(Posted by Xavier)

Our second stay in Christchurch was at the Jailhouse hostel, which is an actual former jailhouse converted into a large full scale working hostel. We stayed inside one of the jail cells. It was interesting walking around the old catwalks, passing all the jail cells, eating in the common area, and seeing some of the artwork done by some of the last prisoners to be locked up there. Maybe not everybody’s cup of tea, but for us it was entertaining.

Luck was shining down on us this time in Christchurch, as the Busker Festival was in town. “What is a Busker festival?” you ask. It’s a bunch of different circus, vaudeville, comedy, performance acts that come into town and perform in the park. No entrance fee, but here’s the catch, at the end of each performance the act asks the crowd to pay for the performance. They always say what it would usually cost you, five to ten dollars per person. It’s really up to you what you want to pay at the end, but we have to say, these acts are top notch and entertaining, so you really don’t mind supporting them. Great fun, and it runs all day in the park and late into the night in different clubs and performance theaters through out the city. We caught acts by the Blackstreet Boys (live from LA!), Campsite Chaos, and Mulletman!

Leaving Christchurch we ventured into the second leg of our New Zealand trek, this time by bus. There are many options for bus touring: bus companies that cater to the adventurous, party type, guided tours and just regular transportation. We went with Inter-City bus lines. Much to our surprise, many of the bus drivers on this bus line also doubled as guides, talking about the sights as we passed them along the way.

We got into the small one-main-street oceanside community of Kaikoura in the late morning with the sun shining down on us. We were looking forward to partaking in Kaikoura’s offerings, such as whale-watching, kayaking, swimming with the seals, etc. But no sooner did we check into our hostel, which takes up an entire block of town (hostel/restaurant/bar/club/gaming), when we noticed the skies starting to cloud up. It was Monday morning, meaning it’s Playoff Sunday back in the USA. We were surprised to see the game on as we passed a few bars, and since both our teams were still in the playoffs, we quickly ducked into one of the nicer bars with wide screen TVs to watch the games with a few other fans from the good old US of A. In short, it was a perfect day to watch both our teams win and move on to the Super Bowl, as the weather turned from sunny, to cloudy, to wet and drizzling. Not your typical Kaikoura experience, but we had a good time none the less.

Our next stop was in the top wine region of New Zealand (Marlborough) in the town of Blenheim. So what do you do in a countryside of beautiful rolling hills full of wonderful grapevines. You go bike riding and wine tasting! And so we did, and occasionally we stopped at a winery to sample some wines. Lo and behold there would soon be another winery. You guessed it, we stopped there too. It was our pleasure to get to one of Kristin’s favorite wineries, “Villa Maria”. Our day ended bar-b-queuing some lamb, bought at a local butcher shop on the way back from the wineries, and drinking a bottle of wine from our bike ride. It was one of the more beautiful nights on our trip as we passed the evening away talking late into the night with some of the other fellow world trekkers at our small quiet riverside hostel. Leaving Blenheim we took away with us one other bottle of wine and some very sore bums from our bike ride.