I arrived back in Christchurch on a Saturday and stayed the night at a local hotel that the US Antarctic Program booked. That evening I went out to dinner with some friends and said goodbye since we were parting ways to explore New Zealand for different lengths of time.
I got in touch with the Barrs that night and arranged to meet them at the hotel the next morning after they’d been to church and I’d been to Christchurch’s Quaker Meeting. The Meeting was very nice and only a 5 minute walk from my hotel so I’m glad I thought to look it up the night before.
Around noon the Barrs pulled up to the hotel in their BMW convertible. I recognized it from Raewyn’s description before so we all immediately exchanged hugs. After squeezing my luggage into the boot we headed back to their apartment on Waimairi Beach in the northeast suburbs of Christchurch.
On the way there, we stopped at New Brighton Beach, where several of us had spent some of our down time in Christchurch back in December. But this time there was something special see. The Barrs had spent the previous day running a sandcastle competition that they’d organized. So we stopped at the Beach to check out all the cool sand art different teams had made.
After that we went to their apartment and offloaded my stuff. They have a beautiful place right over the dunes from the beach and I got to stay in the guest bedroom which was quite nice. We had lunch out on one of their two decks before deciding to head out for the afternoon.
We drove to Akaroa, a town southeast of Christchurch that is right on the coast. The sun was shining and it was warm out, so the top stayed down the whole way as we drove through the mountains and down to the coast, past herds of grazing sheep. Akaroa is a very cute seaside town with amazing views and geology. John described how the town sat on the edge of an ancient volcanic caldera, which was obvious from the bowl shape of the surrounding area.
John parked the car and we stopped for an ice cream cone before walking around a bit more. There was a cruise ship from Australia in port for the day so we walked around and watched the cruisers load up and head back to their ship after a day exploring Christchurch.
After a while of moseying we moved down to the shops to look around, but didn’t see much to get so we decided to head back to the apartment for dinner. On the way we stopped for green-tipped mussels (!) which John threw on the grill when we got back. We also had steak and potatoes which were fantastic.
In the evening, the Barrs helped me plan my road trip for the next 5 days around the South Island. It was great having their help since they were able to suggest a route and sights to see along the way based on what I was interested in. Not only that, but they lent me all the camping gear I would need for the week which was incredibly generous! Thanks to them I had an amazing and pretty much carefree week ahead.