Kristina and David's Round-The-World Journal:
NEW ZEALAND, Christchurch
October 2, 1998
Christchurch is very much an English inspired city, complete with Gothic cathedral and lots of old stone buildings. Unlike Auckland and much of the North Island, there seems to be very little Maori influence. We did nothing "touristy" while here, we didn't even walk into the cathedral. We spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how we were going to get from Sydney to Cairns with enough time to go diving all in 13 days. What we came up with was that the bus would just be a horror and the train would take too long and cost about the same as flying. So, it looks like we're going to have to fly which will severely eat into our budget. I guess that's the price we was for poor planning.
Since October 1 was a big milestone day for me (my 30th birthday) we decided to stay in a nice bed and breakfast here. This was much appreciated by both of us after spending 14 days in the cramped motorhome. We stayed at Fendalton House (50 Clifford Avenue, ph.64 3 355 4298) where we had a great big sunny room with our own bathroom, TV, phone etc. It's owned by a lovely woman named Pam Rattray who cooks wonderful big breakfasts and takes her guests down to the little river that runs behind the house to feed the ducks in the morning.
In honor of my birthday, we also had an amazing meal at a restaurant called Thornley's. I'm going to give you all the menu details now, so if you're not interested just skip down. This is the type of place where one needs a culinary degree to read the menu. Very pretentious, even I had a hard time deciphering it. Thank God, the chef, Peter Thornley, lived up to his reputation (and the attitude of his menu).
We started with a wonderful wine they had just received that day; a Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Syrah 1997 from Trinity Hill in Hawkes Bay. Before we even had our first course, we were presented with an amuse bouche ("to please the palate", in French), usually just one little bite. This was one single Tortellini of Akaroa Salmon with Chive Buerre Blanc and Red Wine Reduction.
Then we began with our appetizers; I had Sesame Seared Golden Bay Crab Tian, Crab Claws in Citrus Jus, a Crisp Nem, Curry and Crab Oil. No, no typos there, even I didn't know what a Nem was (it was, in this case, a little crab filled fried Vietnamese spring roll). David had Akaroa Salmon, Whiskey Cured, Smoked Over American Oak, Steamed Mandarin Crepes, Cucumber, Rock Sugar, Black Bean Relish.
Next course for me was my main; Cherry Farm Duck Rubbed with Pepper, Pumpkin, Water Chestnut, and Ginger, Crisp Pear Lamels, Duck Reduction and Vanilla Oil. I can't even begin to explain how wonderful this was, the duck went so well with the pumpkin, ginger and vanilla. David had Roast Saddle of Lamb, Grilled Polenta Tian, Aubergine Roast Garlic Confit Wrap, Tarragon Oil, Red Wine Reduction. The grilled polenta tian was very thin layers of firm polenta stacked with sundried tomatoes and the aubergine was thinly sliced eggplant wrapped around roasted garlic and stacked atop the polenta. Both my duck and David's lamb were perfectly cooked.
Dessert was preceded by two dessert amuse bouche; Strawberry and Pear William Sorbet with Rhubarb Compote and Lemon/Ginger "Tea"; next a small chocolate and cherry soufflé. For my dessert I chose the Assortment of Chocolate; Bitter Chocolate Tart, White Chocolate Sorbet, Raspberry Muscovite Chocolate Wrapped, Cinnamon Preserved Cherry, Milk Chocolate Pave. This was presented on a large white plate, single bite portions of each. David had the Bella Rosa Apricot Tart, Baked Almond Creme Coconut Glace, Roast Butter Apricot Juice.
We really didn't do much else while in Christchurch. I think we had sightseeing sensory overload by the time we got there. We did, however, find a cafe in the Art Center that makes wonderful coffee. And, as an added bonus, they give you 15 free minutes on the internet on one of their terminals upstairs. We took advantage of this to do a little research on dive boats in Cairns.
We go to Sydney tomorrow with no where to stay and no idea how we are to get to Cairns with enough time to dive. Called the YHA which has 500 beds and they're full!! This doesn't look good....
Some lasting impressions of New Zealand:
1. The way everyone here says "Yeah, yeah, right."
2. Waterfall overload
3. Sheep, sheep, and more sheep.
4. Keep to the left and stay calm!
5. One way bridges shared with trains
THINGS WE DID TO SAVE MONEY:
1. Not much unfortunately.
THINGS WE SPLURGED ON:
1. Meal at Thornley's.
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