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The Car

by Pamela Blalock and John Bayley

It's funny... A month of quarantine initially seemed like a long time, but we are starting to feel the pressure to find a home for the cats who will be out of quarantine in a very short time! Our initial plan was to tour the south island by bicycle, and try to pick a place to live in the process. But we may have underestimated the actual size of the south island, as well as some of the logistical issues of getting around. One issue is the large distances between points of civilisation. One of the downsides of a low population density is that things get pretty spread out, and there are fewer roads. It can be 100 or more kilometres between points of civilisation, so bike trips take a bit more care and planning than in places where it is 5 to 10 km between towns. The weather is also a bit unsettled here. It is early spring, and is actually quite windy at times, as well as being generally changeable - a maritime climate they call it. It's funny, back in New England folks would joke that if you didn't like the weather to wait 5 minutes, it would change. Well the reality was more like several days for a change in New England - having a whole continent to stabilise the weather. In New Zealand, that 5 minutes really can bring a change!

So we broke down and rented a car, so we could cover the large distances between potential homes a bit faster! We tried to arrange a van to make hauling the tandem around a bit easier, but even if we could get one at this time of year, they were quite expensive. Fortunately we brought the coupled tandem with us, so a station wagon (estate car) would work. We simply pop the front end of the tandem and we can get it inside the car easily, along with all our other gear.

BTW, the above picture is NOT our rental car. We believe it belongs to the Wizard of New Zealand. We spotted it in Cathedral Square at the same time we saw the wizard doing a performance.

Driving on the left wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. Fortunately the car is automatic, but we do have the cleanest windscreen in the country, since every time I go to use the turn signal, I turn on the wipers instead! (And when I do want wipers, I get a turn signal instead, since they are opposite of what I am used to).

So after a couple of days back in Christchurch (including visiting the cats twice), we headed out into the mountains. Boy was I thankful for the car, as a royal gale seemed to be blowing hard from the west. We stopped the first night in Methven, and stayed at a hostel near a ski mountain, cleverly named the Skiwi! The next day we headed a bit further south and west, and began to find some varied terrain. We stopped for a bike ride, only to discover a missing s&s tool. We completely emptied the car and all our bags in search of it, but to no avail. Apparently when we disassembled the bike in Christchurch to load it into the car, we left the tool on the footpath! We eventually gave up and decided to aim for a large town with a bike shop where we could get a BB spanner, which would work as a coupler spanner.

Needing some form of exercise, we did a bit of hiking in the afternoon around Lake Tekapo. It was beautiful, but again quite windy and rather chilly.

Banks Peninsula