Yesterday, we arrived in Rolleston, a small town on the outskirts of Christchurch. I initially booked this B&B because it looked adorably cute on the internet. But given recent tragic earthquake in Christchurch, staying outside of town was a great idea. Sadly, the town centre, with it’s famous cathedral and town square has been closed indefinitely. The interesting thing is, although it’s been almost 3 months since the earthquake in February, aftershocks are still very common, occurring every few days. In fact, our host told us that there was one measuring over 5 on the Richter scale just a few days ago. However, we haven’t experienced one during our stay here. Yet.
Despite the constant threat of an earthquake, we’ve been having a great time here in Rolleston. We saved the best for last, accommodation-wise. We are at the B&B of John and Beth Keoghan, who, for you Amazing Race fans out there, are the parents of TV host Phil Keoghan. John was out of town, but Beth has proved to be an amazing host! In fact, both Fanny and I have said that we could easily move in here. It all started on our arrival with tea and biscuits served on beautiful fine china. Although she recommended some great restaurants in the area, when we explained how exhausted we were from the long drive from Queenstown, she generously gave us a can of tomato soup and a loaf of bread so we didn’t have to leave the house. And breakfast today, oh the breakfast…salmon benedict cooked to perfection, yogurt with fruit preserved by Beth herself, and toast with homemade jams – in fact I witnessed Beth make the figoea preserves last night (figoea is a green, florally tasting fruit related to guava, in case you were wondering…)
And then it gets better. Knowing that Fanny and I were taking a mini-road trip today, she packed us a box with 2 thermos of hot water, tea, sugar, milk, bananas, and homemade muffins. Then, after we returned home from dinner, she gave us ice cream as we chatted with the other guests. Amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever stayed anywhere better than this…
Ok, enough about food. Today, since Christchurch is closed, we ventured to the town of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, about 75 km from Christchurch. Akaroa was initially settled by the French, so you can still see the French influence in the street names and architecture. However, to get to this town, our GPS (also known as Nicole, the 3rd member of our trip) decides to take us on the “scenic route”. The thing is, this route is not “scenic” at all. Why? Because it consists of narrow winding mountain roads covered, yes COVERED, in fog. It was so foggy, in fact, that I could only see about a meter in front of me at some points. So I’m driving down this windy mountain road enveloped in a sea of white, knowing that somewhere to the right of me is a very dangerously steep precipice. A little freaky, but I’m happy to say I lived to tell about it. Needless to say, we did NOT take the scenic route back. But the town itself was cute, with beautiful views, so I guess it was worth it.
P.S. I got pulled over by a cop for the first time in my life, EVER. It was a bit of a scary experience, but I knew that I wasn’t drinking or speeding, and I had my lights on, so it couldn’t be THAT bad. Well, it turns out that, while exiting a roundabout, I didn’t signal. (I honestly haven’t been signaling too much while I’ve been here, because, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog, I keep getting the turn signal and windshield wiper blades mixed up. Oops.) Well, thankfully I played up the dumb-American-who-doesn’t-know-how-to-signal-in-roundabouts-because-we-don’t-have-them-in-the-US card (all true) and ended up chatting with the kiwi police officer about his rugby-playing days in the US and got off with just a warning. Whew!