Mar 12, 2015

Ella in NZ

I want to share some moments from our 10 great days here in South Island. I finished working at vineyards in Blenheim the day before my aunt Ella arrived in Christchurch. So I drove down south to Christchurch early in the morning and picked up a very jet-lagged, tired traveler. We went for a morning walk to Christchurch Botanic Gardens and then to a friend's house to take a wee nap. I somehow managed to drop my phone in the toilet the very same day, after a few days drying it worked again, miracle!

We spent our first night in Hanmer Springs. It's a beautiful small town two hours north of Christchurch and known for Thermal Pools. I booked a night in a lovely hostel, Jack in the Green. I can honestly recommend that backpackers to anyone, it's so beautiful and peaceful. Very good facilities and friendly staff. We both were tired so we had a really good sleep there. In the morning we visited the Thermal Pools before starting the drive back to Blenheim.

Almost survived from Jetlag!
It wasn't my plan at all to go back to Blenheim. When I asked what Ella wants to do, she answered she definitely wants to see the place I lived the most of the time here. So we drove to Blenheim, ate in a really good Indian restaurant (I can recommend Maharaja India) and met up with my friends for beer and pool.

Next day we went for a wine tour, as I promised for my aunt. We visited Makana Chocolate Factory, Saint Clair, Brancott Estate (they remember me there already), Hunter's and Dryland's. At the end of the day we took a beer tasting at Moa Brewery. We also visited my workmates Tomas, Seongyoung, Elisa, Yuka and Jack at the PH hostel.

Wineries, vineyards..!
On Tuesday we drove north to Nelson, ate some breakfast there and continued to Kaiteriteri beach. I booked an Abel Tasman cruise for us. It was beautiful there. We had a chance to take a walk back to the beach but we just decided to enjoy the views from the boat. We were supposed to start driving along the West Coast on the very same day but the weather was so good and the beach so great that I booked two dorm beds in the lodge and we stayed an extra night. Ella enjoyed the sun the rest of the day and in the evening we decided to get some dinner. The receptionist of the lodge suggested us to drive to the next village near by, Marahau, and get burgers from Fat Tui. It was so good. Delicious. Taivaallista. On the way back we almost got lost, but we had so much fun with the speed limit signs that it didn't matter.

Split Apple in Abel Tasman National Park

We reserved the next day for sun. Ella wanted to get a tan and I can tell, we sure got some color! My legs got so sunburnt! It was really too painful to sit and of course we decided to travel to Queenstown the next day! So on Thursday I drove ten hours to Queenstown with my burnt legs... I can tell I was swearing so much every time I got out from the car or moved my legs. We picked up some hitchhikers from Kaikoura and took them to Lake Tekapo. After dropping them off we found more guys who were hitchhiking from Lake Tekapo to Queenstown. We arrived in Queenstown at 8pm and checked in to Base Backpackers. We had a really nice room with one Finnish guy (first Finnish backpacker I've met in NZ! Pretty good after 4.5 months travelling...) and three girls from California. We went to bed quite early, after a few beers downstairs.

Ella, hitchhiker Aurél and me
Friday was exciting! We were supposed to take the gondola up to the hill and just do some souvenir shopping but somehow we got an idea to do a bungy jump! I didn't have enough money to do it so we booked a jump for Ella and the swing for both of us for the same day. I got so nervous! But it was great! Even though I didn't jump, the atmosphere was so awesome! After Ella's jump we did the swing. I would love to describe that all here but it's just impossible by words. Check out a video of the swing. It was incredible.

So excited!

Swing bridge
Ella ready for her bungy!
After great bungy jumping day we had a great night out in Queenstown. On the last day Ella did some souvenir shopping. We picked up the hitchhikers from two days before and started to drive towards Dunedin. We got to Cromwell when Molly (my car) broke down. After a few hours sorting stuff out we got a room in a hostel and bus tickets for the next day. Molly stayed in Cromwell. 

When your car breaks down in Finland, you are screwed. Everything costs so much, not many people stop and help you. You are worrying and stressing about everything. What is going to happen to my car? How much is Laakkonen gonna charge you this time? How about towing? How do you get to work from the middle of nowhere?
When it happens in New Zealand, don't worry. It's all sorted. Of course if you have some money and time. Everyone stopped and helped us. Even a girl with a broken leg helped us to push the car on to the verge. Everyone was so nice. One guy gave us a ride to the closest petrol station where we called help from. Steven, the mechanic who came to help us was the nicest guy in the world. He was so calm and explained everything and even me, who doesn't know anything about cars understood what was happening. Thank you CR Motors in Cromwell, you made my Molly's break-down a pleasant experience.

Our last stop was Dunedin before my aunt flew back to Finland. I visited Dunedin a month before with May and I really liked the city. We spent the last day having dinner with my friend Brandon and his friends. Next day it was time to say our goodbyes; I stayed in Dunedin and Ella went to Christchurch by bus. After Ella left, I was a bit sad of course. But it was hard to stay sad because I have such good memories in my mind of the last ten days. And the beautiful city of Dunedin was smiling to me, so I smiled back and I've kept smiling ever since.

Thank you Ella for an amazing visit here! I had such a good time with you and it was so lovely to see someone from home after a long, long time!

"If you're tired of starting over,
stop giving up."



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