2. South From Christchurch
The New Zealand 2008 trip started for me on a plane landing at Christchurch airport at 1am local time. Needless to say, sightseeing wasn't my first objective, but rather a good sleep to finish off the night. I discovered that airport transfers in Christchurch are a bit steep, at 20 for a shuttle bus or 40 for a taxi, even though its a relatively short drive into town. On the other hand, with a metro bus card, the public bus is just 1.90. Of course, that wasn't running at 2am though.
After getting up in the morning I picked up the hire car, and started the trek southward. Initially I got myself delayed looking around Christchurch, but eventually escaped and found the Main South Rd to the south.
The first part of the trip out of Christchurch was fairly mundane, as the road travels inland through mainly farming country. The weather was also rather grey. The first highlight to the trip was then the town of Timaru. It's a major port town of the region with population around 30,000.
|Caroline Bay Park, Timaru|
Timaru is a nicely presented town, and the appearance of the blue sky and sunshine certainly helped out the image. On first arriving in town I started to get a bit excited at the glimpses of green water under blue sky, and followed my nose out toward the ocean. I reached Ashbury Park, and there found the railway line following the coastline.
|Rail, Ashbury Park, Timaru|
It's a peaceful spot with the charm of the railway, and the quiet waters of Caroline Bay lapping the shores poetically. At this point I started diving into my stocks of food I'd earlier procured in Christchurch and had a bit of lunch.
Above Caroline Bay, nestled among the houses was this Kauri wood lighthouse. Originally built in the 1870s, it was moved and restored in 1980. It presumably still serves as a navigational beacon for the port.
Caroline Bay appears to be the recreational centre of Timaru, and the park opens up to something of a beach. As with most of the NZ coasts, the beach sand is something of a grey colour, but with the activity around in this area it still gave a friendly feel.
|Caroline Bay, Timaru|
In exploring the town, I was eventually sucked into the Port Loop Rd, and took a tour of the port district. Being a weekend, the warehouses and wide roads were almost deserted. I was having a feeling in my mind of “should I not be here?” It was an interesting exploration experience, and a stark contrast to the vibrant town feel across the other side of the railway tracks.
|Heaton St Rail Crossing, Timaru|
Back on the road again south of Timaru it again reverted to grazing country. With the blue sky and proximity to the coast, the scenery stayed, well, scenic. When I saw this shed in the middle of the flat fields past the railway, I had to pull over and give the camera a bit of a workout. It's still one of my favoured pictures out of the trip for the feeling it depicts.
|South of Timaru|
At the (very small) town of St Andrews I saw a road out to the coast and took the opportunity to see what the coastline was up to at that point. I had quite a surprise to look out over a flat green ocean from on top of a long cliff face. It was spectacular. Climbing down, I found the beach to be made up of smooth grey stones, and stretching as far as the eye could see in either direction.
|Ocean Cliffs, St. Andrews|
I couldn't stop there all day though, and kept moving southward back through the farming country on toward Oamaru.