Thursday, February 28, 2008

Logbook: Coast - Christchurch - Co-Explorer

CoastchchcoexplorerI drove out of the hills, off the plains and down to the coast on Wednesday morning where I had a delicious, fresh fish lunch at a charming little cafe in the tiny village of Moeraki. As I was eating, a mother dolphin and her baby were frolicking in the bay which made the experience all the more enjoyable. By mid afternoon I had moved up the coast to the town of Oamaru where I checked out the public gardens, the local whiskey museum and a few other reasonably interesting attractions before finding a place to stay and calling it a day. Yesterday morning I continued my northern migration and stopped for lunch in Timaru, a large-ish town with substantial local commerce but not much in the way of attractions. By mid afternoon I was up in the town of Ashburton where I was able to find a decent place with good, unlimited, fixed-cost internet. I make this point in particular because I have found that many places in NZ charge not only for online time, but for download quantity. At an average charge of ten cents per megabyte, each of my otherwise free favorite podcasts can cost $3-$5 each to download, and a 1+GB movie that costs $3.99 to rent from iTunes can cost over $100 to download! My point is that some folks in NZ are still in the "gouge 'em if you can" state of internet development, and you have to be really careful about what you do online and where. So, being able to take advantage of unlimited access at my motel in Ashburton to download almost 10GBs of media -- that would cost a whopping $1,000 elsewhere! -- was a very cost-saving way to spend the afternoon!

I completed my drive north to Christchurch this morning and found a place to stay, then had lunch in a little cafe nearby. After that, it was time to set the next phase of The Voyage in motion by calling my next co-explorer and arranging a meet-up. So, now, to announce the mystery person you've all been waiting to hear about: It's Betty! You may recall that Betty was the "other passenger" with me this time last year on the Polar Star repositioning cruise from Ushuaia to Canaria and that I visited her for a few days last summer at her home in Dawlish, England. Well, we were talking back in December when I had made my arrangements for the freighter cruise to New Zealand and she said something to the effect of "I've always wanted to go to New Zealand!" As you might imagine, I simply replied "Well, why don't you meet me there?" So, while I was at sea Betty made arrangements and arrived here in Christchurch yesterday after an unbelievably long series of flights.

We have no "plans" for our NZ co-exploration, but we have plenty of time to "wing it" because we both expect to be in country until mid-April! I'm looking forward to spending so much quality time with Betty, to fully exploring the country with her and to enjoying her always upbeat attitude and delightful sense of humor. Hopefully, I'll be able to talk her into making a guest post or two to this website! Stay tuned!

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