Across the Ditch in 2012: Basic Training 26 & 27 March

Yes, at last, the long awaited (by some) and much referenced first trip to New Zealand. After almost making it in 2009 but ending up in Europe instead, 2012 saw us heading across the ditch for the first time.

We flew Air New Zealand and opted for the Works option that included meals, drinks and entertainment. But, as it’s only a 3 hour flight I don’t think we’d bother again. We’d opt for the fare only and take our own food.

We’d pre-paid for a cab which was waiting for us. The driver took us on a little tour, showing us some of the earthquake damage and scarily told us they’d already had 3 aftershocks that day.

We checked into the Annabelle Court, chosen on a recommendation of a friend because it’s close to the railway station and there’s a shuttle that will pick us up. Dinner was at a nearby pub then back to try to get an early night – the time difference and daylight saving making it a challenge for our body clocks to shut down 3 hours early.

My first words in my diary entry on Tuesday morning are, “Oh god I hate daylight saving. Still pitch black at 6.30am.” But we struggled out to wait for the shuttle to pick us up for the short ride to the railway station to catch the TransAlpine express to travel to Greymouth.

I suppose we’d expected the whole of New Zealand to be green. The east coast is scenic but in a starker way than we thought. Quite dry. Once over the alps, though, it was as green as we thought it would be.

I’m a big fan of train travel. I find it relaxing and civilised and a great way to meet people. Of course, there’s one in every crowd and we drew the short straw on this one. In the next seat was a man who spent the whole trip telling us how good he was … and why he hated everyone else. I was happy to take my camera and escape to the viewing car, despite it being fairly cold.

Our friend, Ann, picked us up in Greymouth. After a warming lunch at the pub we headed to her place at Hokitika for a quite afternoon and a couple of drinks at the wine bar. Her neighbour joined us for dinner and is going to take Stu fishing later in the week.

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