Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 3, October 27, 2012 -- I want to ride my bicycle

With another whole day free, I had arranged yesterday to rent a bicycle for the today. Christchurch is a relatively flat city, for the most part (though surrounded by hills), so cycling is a relatively easy way to get around, and the drivers are quite conscientious and courteous to cyclists. Many of the major roads also have bike lanes. The bike I was given was a Specialized Hardrock hardtail mountain bike -- solid, but heavy, especially as I am used to riding road bikes. Still, the fat tires were welcome since I didn't bring any cycling clothing. Less welcome was the consistent squeak while riding that was coming from the front brake.

I started off heading roughly eastward in order to hit the coast and see the Pacific Ocean at Brighton beach, where I also found a lovely library and was able to check my email. From there I headed down along the estuary to a village called Sumner (fighting strong wind much of the way), a charming little hamlet of shops and houses right on the ocean. I had a lunch of fish and chips, which has been probably the first reasonably priced meal of my entire stay so far, at approximately NZ$10 for two pieces of fish, a plentiful 'half' order of chips, and a canned soda. At the current exchange rate, that works out to about US$8. Pretty much everywhere else, the food seems to cost about double what you might expect to pay in the States (i.e. something that might be US$15 would be NZ$30). I guess that's the (literal) price one pays for being on an island where much has to be imported.

From Sumner, I headed back along the coast/estuary and then westward, intending to climb a fire road called the Rapaki Track and get a view of the city from on high. Unfortunately for myself, I was already pretty tired from biking around (I had already done about 40km) so I only made it roughly 1/3 of the way up the trail. Still, even from there I got a pretty good view of the city before heading back down and into the City Centre area again.

In City Centre, I once again availed myself of the free wi-fi in order to check my email (on my phone) and got myself a smoothie from one of the food vendors. I then headed back to the hotel, tired but happy to have been able to enjoy being outside all day in a city as lovely as Christchurch. In the end I biked a little over 50km total.

Speaking of lovely -- the people in Christchurch are probably the nicest people, as a whole, that I've ever met. Everyone is super friendly and helpful, and it's really a joy to experience.


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