Took our farewells of Steve this morning – I’ve grown to like him a lot over the past few days – he is very definitely one of the people I would like to see again. Then the 3 of us drove into Christchurch. I’ve been predisposed towards the place ever since I read about it, + my first impressions confirmed that sentiment. We drove straight to the centre, Andy collected his mail, + we had coffee. Then, just as we were about to leave, Andy spotted Kirsten’s van, + we shot up + parked next to them just as they were finalising the sale of it. Talk about whoops of surprise + delight. Not only had they relieved themselves of the van, not only had they made a healthy profit on the deal, but young (34 years young) Andrew had appeared out of the blue as if by magic. The girls, Kirsten + Malisse, were both very excited, so we all went to a favourite coffee shop, where they treated us to coffee, salad, + cake – we could all unwind. Kirsten also mentioned a folk festival over Easter weekend, which appealed to us, + possibly altered plans for an almost immediate departure down to Fjordland. However, that was for the future.
For the present, we drove Kirsten back to her camp ground, + then drove out to Lyttelton, Christchurch’s port. It was good, tho’ even better was the drive over to Sumnor. The wind was fierce + wicked, + we sat in the car watching an immensely skilled windsurfer battle against what seemed to be an impossible wind.
Drove back to Christchurch, out to the campground, + tho’ neither Kirsten nor Malisse were there, we fixed a sandwich,+ I rang John + Pat, the contacts we’d made while in Tongariro. Fortunately, all was well, + we were invited to stay… as we had hoped + expected. Andy dropped us round, + this time it was his turn to watch us read mail. Our passports had arrived with Australian visas – excellent. Gill from Fullers had written to say we had to pay more money for our air ticket – not excellent. Otherwise, application forms for IRD nos, + a letter from my mum, tho’ not Val’s. Odd. Said we’d see Andy tomorrow, + spent the evening with John + Pat. They share a huge house with 4 others – all of us ate together, after which J + P took us on a drive around the night sights of the city, both from within + without – we drove up onto the hills above the city, + with the clear night had a lovely view. J + P are very kind, but not our sort of people at all.
Slight plot-spoiler – this was not the “end” of Steve, lest you think I am ignoring him. But good to re-connect with the girls, all the more so since it was unexpected. And the opportunity to receive mail was always a red-letter day. Otherwise, we are moving inexorably towards our departure from New Zealand, as evidenced by talk of air-tickets etc. This will be our first commercial flight since we left, so not at all a bad effort. And (very mildly) better for the planet too, though we didn’t know this at the time, and our avoidance of flying was cultural and financial rather than ecological.