Next stop: Kaikoura. The eventful and non-conventional journey from Christchurch to Kaikoura is deserving of an entire entry for itself.
Scheduled to depart on a 7 am bus, I ventured into the city with plenty of time to get to the stop. However, the maze created in inner city CHCH with all of the construction and damage from the quakes created an obstacle for my journey which I hadn’t anticipated. Checking the time and seeing 6:55 am while still a good 10 minute walk away from my destination was all the encouragement I needed to resort to plan B, hitchhiking. Just as I was formulating this plan, I was approached by a fellow traveller inquiring where I was headed. I told her my predicament, and coincidentally, she was left behind in Christchurch as well. I invited her to join me in my new, well-developed plan, and my new Canadian friend accepted a bit hesitantly. We got to the beginning of our journey at the entry to the motorway and let our thumbs go to work. After about 20-30 minutes of disheartening attempts to attract a ride, we were finally picked up by an 18-wheeler, haystacks in tow.
Les and his huge, and surprisingly tranquil, husky dog welcomed us aboard for the first 40 kms of our journey, where our routes would part ways. I sat up on a shelf-like platform behind the only two seats in the truck with yet another new companion, this one much more hairy.
After taking us as far as our ways overlapped, Les dropped us off. It was time to stick out those thumbs again. A short 5 minutes later, we were picked up by Cris and Leanne, a lovely Kiwi couple driving a camper van. Their facilities much more accommodating than our former ride, we rode in the back laying in bed whilst enjoying the view and their Cadbury chocolate eggs.
Upon arrival in Kaikoura, Cris and Leanne wanted breakfast. My hitchhiking buddy and I politely declined. However, we soon found ourselves bombarded with Kiwi hospitality and friendliness, accompanied with a huge plate overflowing with bacon, sausage, eggs, grilled tomatoes, toast, and hash browns, complements of our new chauffeurs. They even waited patiently for us to do our Maori leap cave tour, a limestone cave complete with stalactites and stalagmites galore.
A truly unforgettable experience with some absolutely wonderful and purely good-natured people. I’m glad I missed that bus! (Sorry Mom!)