Off to town in the morning 1) to post another box of books etc (I forgot to mention – one of our chores the other day had been to collect the entire set of the Footrot Flats books, + apart from one small pocket-sized edition, we were successful. 2) to change our money 3) to visit the museum. This latter had been strongly recommended, + was indeed very interesting, especially the Antarctic section. However, I am not really a museum man (tho’ I am interested in history.) They seem to me to fall between 2 stools – they are not entertaining enough, nor are they learned enough – the trapping + artefacts of civilisation, but not civilisation itself.
Home then, for some lunch – frantic ironing of clothes to dry them out, packing… + then, finally, away we went. The bus to the airport ran just past the bottom of the street, + more by good fortune than good judgment, we arrived at the perfect time. A bit of a hassle climbing onto a somewhat crowded bus, Val clonking a couple of people with her pack, but at least it was cheap. Christchurch airport was smallish, but well-proportioned. We changed first of all, having travelled in the rain in somewhat ropey clothes, + then checked our bags in. Only then did we discover that the idiot in the Air New Zealand office had booked us in on the wrong flight, + given us the wrong flight time. It was easily sorted out, but not only did we have a 2 hour extra delay but Uncle George, whom we’d rung previously, would be waiting for us 2 hours early at Melbourne airport. I was for ringing them up to let them know, but Val, playing hawk to my dove (quite rightly – it had been the airline’s fault) went back to see what Air NZ could do about it. Rather to my surprise, they telexed Melbourne, who telephoned Uncle George for us. Good old Val… young Val – she is only 21.
We drank coffee, + ate a bun + read, until finally the time came to board. No problems – all very smoothly arranged. Nonetheless, the airplane service etc was vaguely seedy – more an atmosphere than anything else. Still, no complaints – the booze was free, the meal was very good, + the ride was smooth ( only a mild version of my habitual earache on the downward journey.) To make up another of my lists, from the aeroplane to the exit is 3 stages. First, one must collect one’s bags, + this indeed, took a little time (tho’ I think we were ahead of the pack.) But from there on…! Secondly was immigration, who took our forms, stamped our passports (6 months – no sweat) + shoved us through. And as for no. 3, customs, they didn’t even want to see us, merely waved us on. So here we were – Melbourne, Australia.
What was nicer, for the first time, we were being met. We emerged thro’ the doors into a crowd of people, + for once someone out there in the crowd was looking for us. Fortunately, Uncle George + Aunt Lucie recognised us – or at least Val – since we wouldn’t have known them. They seemed very nice, packed us into the car, + drove us out to his house, quite a drive, about 30 miles out from the airport, taking us thro’ the city, so that we could see some of the sights by night. Back home, we sat for a while, chatting, drinking tea, + then bed. They have a caravan in the back garden, well-equipped (even down to a colour TV) + comfortable.
And that is the end of New Zealand – not in any existential sense, but for us. And as I said the other day, we have never been back. Not yet, at any rate.
And actually the country has been very good to us. We arrived with very little money, and were able to top that up considerably. We enjoyed becoming part of the small community at Haruru Falls, even though it was not the most dynamic or exciting of places. And we have particularly enjoyed the walking, tackling at least bits of various trails.
But definitely time to move on, and hopefully to raise more money to fund our journey home. The picture indicates our decision to start the journey north, to the equator and beyond.