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Wednesday 12 February 2003


Arthurs Pass Village - Christchurch


I am in Christchurch again and I find myself thinking ‘cities suck’. I had to come here because there was no way of getting from Arthurs Pass to Mount Cook (where I am going) in one day. It wasn’t all bad though, the stopover has allowed me to buy food, get photos developed, send a parcel home, and shortly I will be seeing a movie recommended by Jennifer – ‘Whale Rider’. It makes me sad that I probably won’t get to see her again because she was so nice, and we shared so much in terms of our views on travel and the world – she was really easy to talk to and always fun. I’m sure this sort of thing will happen a lot as I travel – making friends then saying goodbye, but this is the first time for me. She said on the tramp that I would’nt meet too many girls like Roni and herself, and I’m sure she’s right.

I got up early this morning because Jennifer was thinking of doing the Cass-Lagoon Saddle track in one day, so I wanted to say bye before she left, also I had to strike camp as I was in my tent for the last two nights in the hostel yard. As it turned out, it was raining, which made packing annoying, but meant Jennifer decided not to go today. After saying goodbye, ( Roni left yesterday) I boarded the bus – It was raining until just after Klondike Corner and here in Christchurch, the weather is nice. I hope it’s like this tomorrow.

I’ve splashed out and bought a $150 room (the YHA was full) – hopefully I can partly dry my tent. Tonight I’m at the Rolleston House YHA in a shared room. I’m completely sick of having to book accommodation and travel in advance – I’d love to go to somewhere like Asia where you don’t need to book. Jennifer has hitched rides everywhere she has gone in NZ. I was a hitching virgin when we went hiking, but I don’t think she knew it. I was amazed how easy it was to get a ride, even with three people, each with a big pack, we didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes starting the hike, even when there were hundreds of cars only interested in the race, and at the end of the hike, about the third car going past picked us up. It was so easy, but some of the stories she told us were a little worrying, mainly to do with the skill/intoxication of the driver, indeed, going back the driver we had wasn’t extra good.

I’ve just been to see ‘Whale Rider’ and it is a seriously excellent movie. It made me think that modern life is missing something that the Maoris had, and maybe still have – community. There was a scene in which their ancestors were likened to the fibres at the start of a rope, and they, the fibires at the end, and they had a tight binding to each other, and to their ancestors. I think modern life is more like a large unravelling frayed rope.

The ‘Mountain House’ hostel had a really friendly atmosphere, helped in no small part by Bob the Canadian proprietor who is friendly, funny, and a walking encyclopedia about tramping. Stay more than one night, and he will remember your name and what you’re planning and will make suggestions. The size of the hostel is also great – max 12 people inside plus 6 tents – small enough so that people can get talking, it also helps that Arthurs Pass encourages ‘cook yourself’ meals since there is not many places for food. I’ll have to see if I can search out the smaller hostels in future.