Canterbury and Marlborough - Amazing landscapes and horse trek
In Christchurch, we had the best weather! The sun was shining the whole day and it was almost too warm. The first day there, we went to discover the city centre. It was all still a little improvised even though the big earthquake was at that time already three years ago. That day, it was by chance the anniversary year and there were some remembrance events. Partially, you can still find ruins in the city and they are still reconstructing everything. Even their most important landmark, the Christchurch Cathedral, is still not remade. The Container Mall consist – as you can guess from its name – of containers, in which they set up some shops. We had a stroll around the Container Mall, the city centre, the Cathedral Square, the Hagley Park and the Canterbury Museum. The Cathedral cannot be visited as it is closed.
In the evening, we went again to the Hagley Park, where the Chinese Lantern Festival was held during that time. They were celebrating the beginning of the year of the horse. As the weather had been good for quite a long time, it was still warm in the night and we enjoyed the shining lanterns and the bright clear sky, which created a very relaxed summer nights atmosphere. The whole evening, shows of impressive music and dances were performed, you could get lots of Chinese food and in the end, they had organised a very big and amazing firework. The lanterns were spread around the whole park and displayed different topics, some were on the small river, like a fisherman in his boat and a hippo, in the trees were stars, moons and suns, many animals were on the grass and of course dragons played a big role.
The next day, we went to the Riccarton Market, where all kinds of food and art were sold, and to the Japanese day, where we experienced a lot of martial arts, food and other demonstrations. It has been a quite Asiatic weekend in New Zealand, but as we are always open to all cultures and all kinds of events, we just had to experience it.
For the 24. and 25. February, I had booked an Overnight Horse Trek. I wanted to do it for a long time, but never found something, that suited my expectations and was affordable. It started at 10 o’clock, but I had to arrive earlier at the farm, because we still had to go to the mountains. The guide and his wife were very nice and told me what I would need. I packed everything on the old, not very reliable seeming truck and was sent to fetch a horse from the paddock, whom we loaded on the truck and then went off. It took us almost an hour over gravel roads and steep mountains to get to the starting point. At Glenthorne Station were more horses on a big paddock and we went to get three more. The horses were beautiful and in good condition, which had been important for me. The guide and me prepared the four horses for our trip, three should be ridden and one was going to carry our provisions for the day. I got a white helmet, probably because with a black one it is too hot. Apart from me and Noel, the guide, one French guy joined us. Two others were planned, but they didn’t show up. I actually expect that they just gave up on the roads and thought they were on the wrong way, I think we also wouldn’t have gone there. As the guide had seen that I already had enough experience with horses, he gave me 5-year old Rainer – poor guy, has a German name -, he was a black and white coloured horse and very friendly. The guide rode on the black Zoro, the provision horse was called Sentana and the horse of the French guy I don’t know how to write. We started into the mountains and crossed many rivers, rode through forests, along lakes or passed through cow and sheep herds and of course mountains up and down. Partly it was really steep and we always went slow as it is dangerous in the mountains. I found it very scary that the horses always went close to the slope, but the guide explained that they like to have a good overview and look out for enemies. In the beginning, the provisions horse was led, but as we passed a gate, the guide let it free and it just followed us. The horses were well trained and very sure-footed, which was completely necessary. The first day, we rode in the direction of Mount Enys and then crossed between the two small lakes called Lake Ida. There we had a small stop for letting the horses drink and us as well. We continued in the direction of Lake Catherine and on the way had lunch with hot tea, which our guide made in a small can, which combined fire pit and tea pot. We got sandwiches and juice. Our way led us along a gorge with a small river running through and had amazingly magical lights. There were no roads, no people and no noise. We only met animals, also so goats in the mountains and mostly heard the birds sing. Down in the gorge we had our last stop with some tea, before arriving at our hut near the Mount Ida, where we would stay the night. There, the guides wife already awaited us with beer, tea and some snacks. The guide had asked me before, if I liked beer and as I had said no, was very surprised that I drank it in one. I was so thirsty after a whole day on the horse with only a small cup of juice and some cups of tea. We prepared our sleeping bags in the beds and rested. In the evening, we were served a lot of food for being strong for the next day. After dinner, our guide made a small show for us with the horse Zoro, who already participated in some films. He rode him without bridle and saddle, doing cowboy stuff as fast spins and laying down. It was a very friendly atmosphere, we all got along well and talked long. Still, we didn’t go to bed to late as we were tired of the long day. The next day, we continued after breakfast. The guide had changed horse and now Zoro was the provision horse following as free and also his dog accompanied us for a while. We started our way in the other direction and crossed some truly amazing landscapes. Our way led along the Lake Selfeback to the Glenthorne Station. Zoro was a bit more active and liked staying behind and then cantering past us, which also heated up the other horses and sometimes my Rainer joined for some jumps. When, we arrived at the Station, I helped the guide to bring the horses on the paddock and repair some of the fences. It has been two truly fantastic days in the middle of nowhere and I was completely dead and had sore muscles, but it was one of my best experiences. This is the true way to experience the landscape in New Zealand. Noel brought me back to the farm, where my boyfriend fetched me.
The next days, we spent in Kaikoura, the city of dolphins and whales. We didn’t habe much hope and also didn’t see any. But the more seals, which sometimes lay at parking lots or under benches, relaxing in the sun.
My last day on the South Island, we spent in Picton, relaxing at the sea and walking through the city. The next day, I would take the ferry back to Wellington and there the train to Waikanae, where my friend would fetch me and a few days later accompany me to the airport. My boyfriend would some more time on the South Island and three more months in total in New Zealand.
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