March 19, 2004, 17:10: Christchurch, New Zealand - Base Backpackers
Alright, I'm convinced. It's quite nice here. I took a ride out to Arthur's Pass today, and it quite enjoyable. The road there from Christchurch was very flat and straight. Quite odd, considering yesterday's anything but flat and straight roads, full of off-camber hairpin downhill turns and everything else. It must have been a good 75 kilometres of hardly turning before I could see the mountain ranges I was heading towards. Distance can be deceiving. You might be able to see something just off in the distance, but it could be quite far away. It was at least another 40ish kilometres before I actually began to hit the bases of the mountains. Once I did, I began to really enjoy the ride. The road is a 100 kilometre an hour 2 lane highway, and some of the turns you come up to can be pretty mad, such as 35km/h recommended turns right after a blind corner. I must reiterate - these roads can and will kick your ass. Fortunately, the bike made me a much better rider than I actually profess to be and went through the corners quite admirably. This was fun.
From a distance, it looks like the mountains are snow capped but in fact, they were not. It appears to be rocks of some sort covering the mountains. Regardless, it was quite nice and scenic. There's nothing in particular that grabbed my attention, it was just quite nice to ride through such beautiful terrain. Of course that is, other than the flock of sheep I encountered on the road. It was pretty mad. Picture this: driving along a tight windy road carved into the side of a mountain with a pretty good pace going, and you've been at it for 10-15 minutes, when all of a sudden, there's just this big mass of sheep being chased by dogs and a man down the road. That was quite something to see. I followed behind the flock for about 5 minutes, when there was a small opening and I was able to get about halfway through. The rest of my path was cleared by revving the engine just a bit, and they made a nice little path for me to get through. I remember watching the mass, and periodically, a sheep would just jump up about 4 feet into the air, only to land on the back of some other poor animal. Quite the experience.
I remember when I was trying to plan out what to do in NZ; I couldn't find any worthwhile activities or suggestions on what to do. No one that's been here could really give me a suggestion of where to go and what to see. I can understand why. It doesn't really matter where you go, just as long as you go somewhere. I'm one to reckon on a bike is the best way to see it. Forgive the cliché, but this is a beautiful country. The weather might not be as fair as Australia, but it's made up for in scenery. I wouldn't mind touring around for a bit more, but my time is just about up here, and I must continue on with my plans. I'm dreading getting up at 4 tomorrow morning. I hope customs is nice and quick.