Friday, 31 January 2014

Queenstown, Christchurch and Ka kite ano / Goodbye

Hey everyone,

et voilà - the next blog post. Already! The past few weeks of travelling through New Zealand have been quite eventful, yet all good things come to an end.

My return to Christchurch after the Northland/Bay of Islands trip (described in the previous blog post) was rather short, as I left again for Queenstown last Sunday. Yes, I already went to Queenstown during this trip but it was such an amazing place that I had to go there again for a bit longer before leaving the country. Also, I met Baltazar there, a really nice guy from Chile with an affinity for all things German.
The delay of my flight, at this stage, didn't bother me at all anymore. It seemed to be more or less common practice with Air New Zealand and since I am on holiday, it doesn't really matter whether I arrive one hour earlier or later. This time, yet again, the delay was due to bad weather and - as they say - "the late arrival of the aircraft". This aircraft, a turbo-prop, had just arrived from Queenstown, making its way through heavy crosswinds and a rainstorm. When boarding was completed, a voice said: 
"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard your flight to Queenstown. As we have just come from Queenstown on our previous flight, we would like to inform you that turbulence may occur throughout the flight and advise you to stay seated with your seat-belt fastened at all times! There will be no hot drinks service on today's flight due to the weather conditions over the Southern Alps. Air New Zealand apologises for any inconvenience this may have caused."
Great. A free roller-coaster ride for everyone on board! - In reality, however, no one seemed nearly as excited as me - except for the two kids on the other side of the aisle. A concerned voice behind me enquired "Is it really that bad?" - the flight attendant's reply: "Yes it's pretty rough down there. Strong southeasterly winds." - "That was not the answer I was hoping for." - Well, but that's what you get if you ask! In the end, it wasn't all that bad, a few squeals and screams and we touched down in New Zealand's Adventure Sport capital. No need for the sickness bags.

Queenstown. Blue skies, sunshine and a high of 18°C - the perfect weather to get sunburnt! Other than that, the weather was actually fantastic and I spent most of those three days relaxing near Lake Wakatipu, having one nap after the other (I don't think I have ever slept more in three days!), eating Argentinian "churros" with "dulce de leche" at a small café called Patagonia, listening to the beautiful sound of the Spanish language (I was hanging out with Baltazar and two friends of his from Spain, Jose and Paula) and watching two other Argentinians making colourful bracelets, anklets and necklaces. Not a hint of stress, not a bit of pressure - time to reflect, time to think, time for indulgence.
Downtown Queenstown
Queenstown Marina
The "Remarkables" 
Crystal clear glacial water
Time for Art and for living the moment
Sunset over Lake Wakatipu
What an amazing feeling to get up in the morning and have time, to go to the Lake before noon and stay till well after sunset, to be able to soak up the "there and then" and just be! A big thanks to Baltazar for that =)
Eventually, however, I had to go back to Christchurch, this time by bus. 8.5 hours, a working day on the bus - from 8 am to 4.30 pm, taking me past Cromwell, Twizel, Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo and Ashburton.
Snow-capped Aoraki/Mt. Cook behind Lake Pukaki
Lake Tekapo's Church of the Good Shepherd
And now, a couple of days later, I can't believe how fast those 4 weeks in New Zealand went by. I have caught up with old friends and made new ones, visited familiar places and explored unknown territory, I have done everything I have wanted to do in New Zealand while still leaving some parts to discover on my next trip - and I will not leave that for another seven years! I can now explain why the North and South Island still feel more like home than the West Island, although both have been a great experience to see, live and travel. Thank you everyone who has made this trip so special, yet again!
What it comes down to ...
In a nutshell, I have satisfied my yearning for this place. Temporarily. Because ultimately, any time spent in New Zealand is too short unless it is forever.

Ka kite ano au i a koe, Aotearoa - I will see you again soon, Land of the long white cloud! =)

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