We were supposed to fly to Christchurch at midnight on January 3rd. Whilst checking in the assistant mentioned they were looking for people to offload from the flight due to poor weather conditions and restrictions put in place on the plane. After listing all the free things would receive (a free night in a hotel, breakfast, dinner, airport vouchers and a $200 voucher for the airline) we were soon on our way to our swanky hotel and ready to fly the next morning.
We landed in Christchurch to torrential rain and howling winds. We could have quite easily landed in England for the sight out of the window, and this is definitely weather we haven’t seen anywhere since we’ve been away.
We took the shuttle bus outside of the airport directly to our accommodation. We were staying at Jailhouse Accommodation, which is a converted jail that now houses short term inmates and their backpacks on their travels around Christchurch. The location is a bit out of the way from town, but the querkyness of the place is worth it and we had a fantastic time there. The staff (lifers as they are known) make a great effort to make sure everyone’s stay is memorable and introduced us to the game ‘the wolves of millers hollow’ which a large number us played one evening.
Our first full day in Christchurch was spent searching for a campervan to take us around the South and North Islands. We visited the backpackers car market, which had lots there and we did do a testdrive of one,but none seemed right, and so we moved onto Chester street backpackers. Sitting looking sorry for itself in a lockup with several other vehicles was a blue Nissan Serena which we are now calling home for the next month. The layout of the camper was great, with a table contraption in the back which folds down to create the bed, storage and all the camping equipment we needed. After John won a free car wash and vacuum whilst he was putting in some petrol, a new duvet and cover, and some cleaning of the interior our ‘bling bus’ was ready.
Whilst on the hunt for our camper we walked a lot around Christchurch and saw a lot of devastation still remaining from the earthquake. The town has a lot of rebuilding work taking place and they have ingeniously used shipping containers to create a shopping mall. We didn’t hang around for too long there, as our main aim was to buy a camper and get on our way, to see what beautiful New Zealand has to offer.