My first week in New Zealand
Mark, as Modge is now known, and Leanne met me at Christchurch airport, I forgot to tell them I was coming via Auckland, so they nearly waited for me at the international arrivals, but thankfully they figured it out. I kept them waiting for dramatic effect (and coz I needed to visit the ‘restroom’ as soon as I got off the plane). It was so good to see them, and a bit emotional, especially as my whole trip so far has felt a bit like the journey to this point. I told them I was gonna try and go a week without drinking alcohol as I’d drank most days for the last 3 months, so as soon as we got back to the house Mark handed me a beer… I drank it. Their house is spot on, and I’ve got my own room. The first night was the first time I’d slept in a room on my own since Vegas and it felt very weird. But it was great to finally have my own space, and be able to fully empty my bag for the first time on the whole trip.
On my first full day in Christchurch, Sarah (Leanne’s sister, who I used to simply call Crossley… I’ll probably stick with that actually) had the day off work so she took me on a whistle-stop tour of the city. The weather was amazing so we started off the day by going to an indoor shopping centre. We went to Ricarton Mall, which has become the main shopping place since the city centre was decimated by the earthquakes, to get a sim card and a new phone case, as the one I’ve been using for travelling makes my phone look a bit special. We went into the city centre to Restart, which is an area of shops and cafes that have been made out of old shipping containers, in a spot where several buildings used to stand. It’s sad to see how the city centre has been ruined by the earthquakes but I can’t help but feel that the way they are dealing with it, and the regeneration of the city, is very positive. I loved Restart and the creativeness of it. I told Sarah about my plan of not drinking so she took me to a pub for lunch and ordered us a pint each. Again, I drank it. We then finally made the most of the weather and went to Sumner beach. That night Leanne made a proper roast dinner with NZ lamb, it was absolutely beautiful. All in all I had a pretty bloody good welcome to Christchurch.
Throughout the week I had various other things to sort out, like mine and Higgy’s trip to the north island, and various wedding stuff. Writing a best man speech that treads the very fine line between funny and bang out of order is not easy, especially for someone who has provided me with such a lot of material over the years.
I did get out and about though. I played 5 aside one night with some of Mark’s mates from work, who are all English. It was the first bit of proper exercise I’d had in 3 months, I thought I was going to collapse, I’ve not been so unfit in years. I then woke up with a shooting pain in my side and shoulder that lasted several days, which was fun. I also went to the park one day, and into town again to ‘Quake City’, the earthquake museum. Mark and Leanne moved to christchurch just before the earthquakes and so it was interesting, and also a bit upsetting, to see what they’d been through. 180 people died in the second earthquake, and the city looks nothing like it once did. There are still several half fallen down buildings, scaffolding and cordoned off areas. But the way everyone has pulled together since then is very inspiring.
At the weekend I went for a coffee with Leanne to a great coffee shop with loads of random sofas and chairs as outdoor seating. We also went to the outdoor food market, but we got there as it was closing. We still managed to buy some muscles wrapped in bacon though, which were delicious. I then went to meet Laura, who I did the Whitsundays trip with, as she was in Christchurch for a couple of days. We went to the museum of Canberra, which was really good. I got asked to fill in a questionnaire of my visit at the end and, as I was so impressed, I agreed to do it. I thought the woman was going to kiss me she was so happy that I’d said yes. I’m guessing most people can’t be bothered.
That evening we went to Dan and Katie’s for tea. Dan is another one of Mark’s groomsmen. We had a good laugh and the food was spot on, and the evening made living in Christchurch even more tempting. At one point I was dressed in Katie’s cycling shorts, cycling top, and sweat band. I’m not fully sure why.
Sunday was my favourite day in New Zealand yet, because we went to the airport to pick up not only Mark’s mum and dad, but also, wait for it, Higgy! He looked like a little lost sheep walking into arrivals, bless him. I was so excited to see him I’m gonna give the lad his own blog post… not that he’ll read it.