Milford Sound was wonderful.  I wanted to stay there, and briefly thought about applying for a job with Real Journeys.  Alas, I could not, I had clients waiting for me upon my return.

Leaving Queenstown after Aggie Football
I awoke with a start at 4:30 the following morning (and by “start” I mean “loud alarm”).  I wasn’t concerned with jetlag or the long drive ahead of me that morning, my focus was half a planet away in College Station, Texas.  The Fightin’ Texas Aggies were taking on the Rice Owls in American College Football, and they needed my support.  Thanks to a good friend, also named Andy, I was able to watch the game via his BelkinTV app.  I watched the sun rise over the top of my iPad as the Aggies deftly handled the Owls.  I knew I needed to leave by 9, so the Aggies had a schedule to keep.  They did.  The victory was ours just before 9am.  I quickly packed my things, grabbed a shower, and hit the road for my final journey in New Zealand: driving to Christchurch.

As expected, the views were scenic, if not a little foggy at first, which made me feel like I was in a horror movie.

a road with trees and fog

Fog on the way to Christchurch

The fog eventually lifted, which was nice as it meant I could see farther than a kilogram or so ahead.  The drive was mostly uneventful.  I enjoyed mostly empty roads that were quite desolate at points.

a road leading to mountains

Just me and the Whatever My Car Was Called

I had heard the drive had a few highlights, which I discovered about halfway through.

a body of water with mountains in the background

Lake Pukaki

a body of water with mountains in the background

Lake Pukaki

a rocky shore with a body of water and mountains in the background

Lake Pukaki

The weather was just perfect, allowing for great views of Mt. Cook (which is rare, from what I understand).

You never really knew what you were going to find along the side of the road, I even happened upon a second Mirror Lake!

a body of water with trees and mountains in the background

Lake Ruataniwha

a lake with trees and mountains in the background

Lake Ruataniwha

a body of water with mountains in the background

Lake Ruataniwha

I enjoyed the rest of the drive, as I unsafely listened to music with headphones from my iPhone.  The roads were empty and wonderful, and it was a nice end to my time on the roads of New Zealand.

I like to think I’m a pretty good traveler, but man I did Christchurch wrong.  I picked a backpacker’s place close to the city centre without doing my research, which would’ve told me that the city centre was only recently reopened after the highly devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.  You could tell they were working as fast as they could to rebuild the centre, but there’s still a long way to go.

a construction site with a crane and a building


a building with a red fence and a blue sky with clouds


The Cathedral is still in rough shape.

a building with scaffolding and signs

Christchurch Cathedral

There were art installations all over the centre of the town, and you can’t help but feel hope when walking through these areas.

a black wall with white writing on it

Hope for Christchurch

Christchurch will rise up from the rubble and be a world class city once again, but, having said that, I ended up in a bad area of town, lost, and narrowly avoided what I feel could’ve been a mugging.  Please don’t let my impressions of Christchurch impede you from visiting, just please be sure to plan your visit better than I planned mine.  As more and more of the city centre reopens that area will be a better place to stay, but for now most of the nice areas are outside of the centre.

I know this was a short post
I’m working on the big one, which will wrap up this trip report series.  Up next, the one most of you have patiently been waiting for: Qantas First Class to Sydney, the Shangri-La Sydney, and Qantas First Class to Los Angeles aboard the A380.  Talk to you soon!

a plane on the tarmac

A little sneak peek

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