Land Of The LETS Green Dollar
Copyright � James Taris


Lyndsay was rough as guts, but one of the nicest blokes you could meet.

14. Monday, April 7

Rough Ride, Seals And Stone Towers

The South Island is so big (over 1,000 kms), and I had to travel from one tip right down to the other, that a lot of the next few days were spent travelling.

Lindsay Jukes, from Nelson LETS, came to pick me up from Eva's bright and early in the morning, and we left Nelson at 8.00am. Lindsay is a tough but chatty guy, much like a Truckee, but his small van didn't have the grunt that his character deserved. Most of our traveling was at 80 kms/hr, so it was quite a surprise when finally we found ourselves overtaking a much slower truck ahead of us.

Our trip to Christchurch was going to take about 6 or 7 hours. But a couple of hours into our journey, we found ourselves moving from a warm and sunny inland road to a dull, cold, wet and windy coastline. And it stayed that way for the rest of our trip. It got a bit scary too, as the wind pushed the light van across the road on more than a few occasions.

Lindsay knew the road very well, and he pointed out a couple of tourist attractions I would otherwise have overlooked.

In fact, the bad weather actually worked in our favour for the first stop. Hundreds of large seals had come out of the stormy waters to take refuge amongst the rocky beaches beside the road. And even though it was still raining, I couldn't resist the temptation to jump out of the van and take a couple of snapshots.

These stone towers were a very eerie sight.

Further along, we encountered an eerie sight. Dozens of stone towers had been built within metres of each other, using the flat and rounded stones of which the beach was made of. It had a Stonehenge type of feel about it. Very grand and spiritual.

Burnt Napkins, Choirs And Girl Talk

We got to Christchurch by 2.30pm, and found my LETS host, Averill, waiting for us. Averill was a taxi driver, but she'd just taken her cab to be repaired so we'd have to spend the next 2 days using public transport. I caught my first bus in New Zealand that afternoon, and for only NZ$1.00 I was able to travel through 2 bus sections for up to 4 hours. The only complaint I had was that we had to wait in the freezing cold weather for about 15-20 minutes before the bus arrived. And I was still cold even though I'd dressed up in a jacket, skivy, scarf and gloves. After that experience, I began to wonder how I'd get by in Invercargill which was another 600 kms further south!

The best news about Christchurch was the Internet Caf� rates. Because of the large population (3rd largest city in NZ) the rates were way down to NZ$3/hr., whereas they had been as high as NZ$12/hr. elsewhere. Needless to say, I spent much time there catching up with my emails and writing.

Dinnertime was a little embarrassing. After casually using a napkin to wipe my fingers, I carelessly tossed it aside and within moments it caught fire from a lighted candle. Luckily the napkin was made of material, so I managed to put it out before it burnt to ashes. I couldn't help but laugh (Averill didn't) at how silly I'd been. Anyway, no real harm done.

After dinner we went to the World Music Choir Concert which was performing in the hall only minutes down the road. This concert was being held by the Big Sing group which took singing novices through a 5 week course ($70 fee) and gave them enough training and confidence to perform in front of an audience by the time the concert date arrived. The show lasted nearly an hour, after which the excited graduates joined the rest of us for coffee and nibbles.

Averill and I and a couple of her friends then went to a nearby pub for a drink. I'd had so much to eat that evening, that I struggled to get through my pint of beer. In the meantime, the girls politely engaged in small talk as they waited for me to finish my beer. But I soon as I took my last swallow, we were off.

This article is taken from the ebook,
Land of the LETS Green Dollar

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