Christchurch, New Zealand
Dedicated to Jem-Jem 🙂
11th October 2013
So Jemma and I, when talking about our friendship and the logistics of it, often say that we ‘visit each other’. That might be true but it is also a straight out lie. I have never visited Jemma. That makes me a shitty friend. Jemma has come over to Australia countless times, once she was in Brisbane but thanks to phones not working, I didn’t even get to see her. I basically need the friendship card waved in my face. Sure, Jemma tries to make it sound less horrible by saying that her sister lives in Brisbane, which is true, so she comes here more, but the thing is she doesn’t come here ‘more’, she just comes here. I don’t go there.
It doesn’t take a geography genius to work out which out of Brisbane and Christchurch are nicer to visit. In case you were wondering (and you really shouldn’t be unless you aren’t from either Aus or NZ), it is Christchurch, or actually, anywhere in New Zealand….except maybe Auckland actually…the two are probably equal in that respect.
So, by some miracle, and thanks to an unwarranted automatic credit card increase, I found myself buying some cheeeap as cheeeps (yeah that’s right, we say it way worse than the kiwi’s) flights with good old Virgin/Air New Zealand to go and visit Jem in October.
One carelessly submitted annual leave form (its not really an option, I won’t be here type submission) and I was packing my suitcase ready to get to NZ. Jem had assured me that as it was October, the cold snap was gone and I could probably get by with a jacket. Jem must have reconsidered that statement, as previously mentioned, I am a weak Queensland and anything below 15 degrees to me may as well be the Arctic. I was one step away from asking Mum for her amazingly colourful thermals when I decided to just suck it up and stop being such a sook.
Friday morning rolled around and it was flight time, with a curbside drop and a smack on the bum, Mum dropped me at the airport and it was time to get my NZ on. I had only been to NZ a few times, once in transit and a few times to the Northern Island, this was to be my first South Island experience and I was beside myself with excitement.
As we started to land in Christchurch and looked out my window (anything under 4 hours I can handle window seat because I don’t need a bathroom break)…and, I, squealed, like the little girl I am. There was snow. Snow on the mountains (have never seen snow, can you even comprehend that?) also, way to fulfill a stereotype NZ, there were sheep, adjacent to the runway. Do you know what we have adjacent to the runway in Brisbane? Dirt. No sheep. No big fat, fluffy, white, happy as hell, sheep. With mountains and green grass and snow and perfection, I could see flowers in the grass. Now you’re just showing off Christchurch. Do you know what colour my grass is? Painful. It’s painful, spiky, sharp, razor brown painful coloured. Where it is anyway, where it isn’t just clumps of dirt. Stupid Queensland.
Anyways, met with the friendly face I miss terribly when I am back home, Jemma and I headed to her parents house, which she was house-sitting and dropped my bag off and then we went for a quick and amazing tour of Christchurch. Most of us know of the tragic 6.3 magnitude earthquakes that hit Christchurch in 2011, causing millions of dollars in damage and tragically taking close to 200 lives and countless injuries. I didn’t have the chance to see Christchurch before the earthquakes but there is something to be said about the resilience and good nature of the Christchurch-ians (?) when you see their city. Whilst it has not been rebuilt and there is sign of the earthquake damage everywhere, they have done their best to work with what they have got. The renewal (re:start project) of Christchurch was kick-started with the (shipping container) City Mall. The mall is made up of around 27 stores, each store within a shipping container. It is quite cool to walk through and see, if you can separate innovation from tragedy. Jemma told me that it (the mall) was smacked with an intellectual property lawsuit from London Boxpark Mall, as they feel that their ‘idea’ was pinched. Who in their right mind, chooses to sue a city which suffered a devastating loss and may never be rebuilt? They aren’t stealing your idea, you idiots, they are doing their best to bring back a feeling of normalcy to their city. You really come across as some insensitive idiots.
Jem and I then did what we do best, and decided on a gas-bag with vodka diet cokes and some delicious Dark and Extra Stormy cocktails at the Pedal Pusher….hello delicious! It got to around 6pm and I realised how cold I actually was and met with a good-natured eye roll from Jem, we headed back to her place so I could rug up into something warmer. To think it was only 6 hours before hand that I was sweating bullets back in Brisbane wearing jeans in mid-October and now I was freezing. Jem and I decided on tackling the duty free bottle of vodka before we went out to dinner.
Dinner at Cortado was amazing, a tasting plate of goodness, deep fried calamari, delicious fried cheese with RASPBERRY sauce (you read that correctly boyfriend, raspberry – not cranberry, as we have continued to argue for the last 6 months) and other treats. Then we walked back to Jemma’s parents house in the FREEZING* cold to get stuck back into the vodka. Vodka led to cat hangs, blurry photographs, watching This is the End and laughing, sooooo much laughing.
We both woke up with pretty impressive hangovers and decided to frock-up for our winery day, which had seemed like a spectacular idea the day before but now seemed incredibly difficult, thanks to our voddy-hangovers. Jemma and I headed out into the countryside and went to a few wineries, did some wine tasting, spoke to a pretty cool lady, Susanne, who gave us tastes of the good stuff. Then our stomachs were rumbling and it was time for lunch. Our last, and gorgeous stop for the day was Pegasus Bay Winery, where we had the MOST delicious platter for two, accompanied by amazing wine.
Then we took our romantic selves on a secret-garden-esque post lunch walk. I wanted to take my shoes off and just run around the gardens, because the grass, was GREEN! Long and flushy and plentiful and green. Those of you who have it, take it for granted! Try and run around barefoot in my front lawn and it will end up looking like a horror/slasher film starring your feet and lower legs (possible movie idea?).
As we were leaving the winery, driving down the road, windows down, wind breezing through our hair, looking at the wildlife and just generally soaking in the beautiful-ness (it’ss a word) of New Zealand, a bee sent from the devil himself zoomed into the car, landed in my hair and then the screaming begun. This thing was like a flying dollar coin (the aussie dollar coin, not the weird tiny kiwi dollar coin 😉 ) – buzzing, buzzing the death song of its people. Jemma had that sedan pulled over and she was out of the car, I was out of the car. There was screaming. Then as I opened the boot to see where the bee was, it lunged at me in another depraved devil-bee attack. We survived though. Jemma, we survived. WE are survivors.
We needed a time out with the cows and sheep for a minute to recover before we got back in the car and headed home. I witnessed some pretty impressive road **rage** and tail gating, it all started to come together why Jemma wasn’t overly confident in driving the Interstate 15 back in 2012, there are two lane highways in Christchurch, max.
Soon enough it was time to head back to Christchurch and get ready for our night out, Jemma had organised a night out with her girlfriends and I was pretty excited to meet them, albeit nervous as hell about being the one with the ‘funny’ accent, for once. It was really nice to get my drink on with a new group of girls and to meet Jemma’s people :). I brought spotlight on myself when I found vegemite packets I had stashed in my jacket, who even knows when (I do know that these same packets were in my jacket 3 months later in South America). We went to a pretty cool little bar in town, had too many drinks, ate too much food. There was an awkward bucks night which somehow implicated **one** of the girls (not me but she shall remain nameless), there was some table dancing, there was some inappropriate booth conversations, ok there were a lot of inappropriate conversations, there was a dude in a pink popped collar who was the epitome of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. There was some shrub-jumping and running after a cab (yep – me), there were more hilarious moments on the way home. There was a three-way phone call to my boyfriend back home, there was Whittakers PB chocolate (the greatest EVER) and then there was sleep.
Waking up close to lunch time and feeling the alcoholic feats of the night before, I stumbled into Jemma’s parents kitchen and…met Jemma’s parents! I was pretty happy, because they are fantastic and you can see why Jemma is the bomb :). They told us all about their trip they had been on, we had a few laughs and then we decided drinking was a good Sunday idea. So we drank and we laughed and we watched Teen Mom 2 and Catfish, ordered pizza’s and THEN! We rode bikes! Fabulous, vintage, hard to steer around corner, bikes. It was one of the best afternoons I had for the entire year. So much fun! Also, my elated behaviour with the bike riding, scored me a bike for Christmas from my boyfriend :). Later on we watched The Notebook and, um, thanks to the amount of alcohol in me, I cried in front of Jemma’s parents and Jemma and they made a quick escape to bed. Sorry guys.
I loved it, I can’t wait to go again. Christchurch rocks, people from Christchurch rock and I wish there was a bridge between the two of us.
Not a bad way to spend a long weekend with Jem, in the waiting months for our gigantic trip :).
*FREEZING: a temperature below 12 degrees to people from Queensland, Australia.
**FREEZING: Classified by the kiwis as sub-zero temperatures, sleet, frozen livestock and icicles.
**Rage**: People from Christchurch engaging in road-rage is actually kind of adorable. It was annoying but it makes you think of pissed off Canadians and you appreciate that people from Christchurch are a million times nicer than anyone else in the world. FACT.