The South Island Begins

This week has been, all things considered, one of the wildest weeks I have had yet in New Zealand thus far (and that’s saying quite a bit considering how my first week went). In the past week, I have traveled the majority of the length of the country, and loved every second of it.

I flew out from Auckland last week and landed in Christchurch. I was lucky enough to have a friend studying at a university in the city, and spent a few days living with him and his 7 other roommates (all incredibly fantastic, generous, and hospitable people). I was able to see the sights of Christchurch, spending my time aimlessly/productively (because sometimes they are the same thing) wandering about the city and simply taking in the atmosphere of the place. While there is still recovery work being done in the city following the earthquake a few years back, the reconstruction is beautiful in a way. Where some saw destruction, they can now see healing. Where death was seen, new and vibrant life is starting to find its way to the surface. It was an interesting experience to visit a city that was in the middle of this healing process.

While seeing the sights and various museums in the city was great, I tend to value relationships more so than I do the physical places. I stayed outside the city, commuting in by bus, with a friend I met in Rotorua and his roommates. The welcome I received upon walking into the house was legendary. Considering it was a last minute decision to stay with this friend, I expect many of the roommates had only heard of my arrival the day before (possibly even the day of) my arrival. Despite this, I walked in to a room full of people around a dinner table, with an empty plate waiting for me and encouragements to eat with them. I slept on the floor of their living room, so got to spend a decent amount of time talking with them and getting to know them. These are the times I will remember in Christchurch, far more so than the random art or buildings that I saw.

After about a day or two in Christchurch, I decided that I was going to simply get on a bus and head down to Queenstown. While unfortunately I was turned down from a job that I had expected to get, I had found a potential job in Queenstown that would help my bank account recover a bit. Without further hesitation, I bought a ticket to go out the next morning. I left early and drove the major part of the south island in about 8 hours, savoring the chance to see the views from the drive without having to actually pay attention to the road. A few brief food and bathroom stops, some incredible views, and plenty of rain, soon found me in Queenstown in the late afternoon. After checking in to a surprisingly nice hostel, I began my exploration of the city.

Queenstown is significantly smaller than I thought it was going to be. I have heard multiple times how much people love the city, yet I really didn’t know what to expect. After spending a few days here though, I can understand why people love it so much. It may be expensive, but the natural beauty surrounding the city is astounding, and the general friendliness of everyone here is refreshing. This is a city that has two main classes of people: travelers and wealthy people. There are of course some locals that aren’t extremely wealthy, yet it does seem that this is a city filled with only those two groups of people for the most part. As I happen to fall into former of these groupings, cheaper accommodation was a priority for me. I spent most of my first night in this city searching for a place to stay, and job searching throughout the streets.

While I have been searching for work, it does seem that the initial job I came down here for is going to work out. I will be employed at a call center (not the most glamorous work, but it’s the type of work backpackers are used for), and start my trial period for the job on Monday. I’m incredibly grateful for this work, and can’t wait to start having a bit of income again since, as I said, this place is pretty expensive. I’m still working on the accommodation bit, but I’m hopeful that something will come along. I’m living out of hostels right now, but at least it gives me a chance to meet some people in the area! This is an amazing city that I hope to get to know very well over the next few months. I’ll still be making trips out to the surrounding places on weekends, but I am equally as excited to start having a presence in this small city. My plans for now are to stay here for quite a while, but I guess we’ll see what happens. After all, I rather enjoy having my plans disrupted. It makes for a more interesting time, wilder stories, and better memories.

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