LC and I wanted to hit the open road as soon as we could. We rented a car and drove out to the Banks Peninsula, a short drive away from Christchurch. This peninsula is where the British first landed and claimed New Zealand for the British Crown, just barely grabbing the claim away from the French who had an outpost nearby. The town we were headed for, Akaroa, is located in the vent of a long extinct volcano. We drove up twisty narrow roads on what used to be the side of the volcano. The picture shows the view from the ridge at the top of the cone. The water in the pic is where the extinct vent used to be.
We spent a long, wonderful day hiking around Akaroa. We watched the sailboats and explored the lighthouse. We tramped through the overgrown Garden of Tane and headed back to town through the old colonial cemetery with its separate burial areas for Catholics, Protestants and non-conformists. By the time we got back it was getting late, so we had to make a tense drive along the ridge tops in the fading light to get back to Christchurch.
On the way back, we stopped for dinner at a roadside inn. We were the only people there for dinner, so we chatted with the owner next to a hearth with a crackling wood fire. The fire was a welcome relief and a delight after the cold and difficult night drive along the mountain tops. The owner asked us what we were planning to do during our stay in New Zealand.
I told him, "We plan to drive around and see as much of this beautiful country as we can. You are very lucky to stay in country so rich in natural beauty".
"Yes, it is beautiful isn't it", he smiled, and left us to our dinner.
We famished travelers ate in the company of a Swift which flitted among the roof beams. The owner said that the bird was a regular visitor at night, coming in to enjoy the light and warmth of the fireside. That's a smart bird, I thought, as we left for the cold drive along the quiet road back to Christchurch.