It's strange to think about this time next month I will be going home. It's not a thought I'm particularly relishing as firstly, I will have to decide what to do with my life for the next couple of years, and secondly I will probably have no money at all. I've also really enjoyed my time away and for it to end at any time would probably feel too premature.
I'm now in the second-to-last country on my trip, which is New Zealand. I didn't know much about this land before arriving, except for what I'd learned from watching rugby; films such as Lord of the Rings (for the record there is a distinct lack of hobbits here), Once were Warriors, and from TV like Flight of the Conchords. So from that creates an image of New Zealand as Middle Earth which is full of drunken violent maoris, who play rugby and indulged in novelty music once in a while. Of course the reality is totally different
What is true is that the landscape is epic, and to that extent New Zealand is Middle Earth. I noticed this on the plane, as it flew over the Southern Alps. I was pleased to have a window seat for this as I would have missed out on something amazing. Also the view provided a distraction to the in-flight film, which was Couples Retreat and to be fair it's easy to find an excuse to skip that film. I also hoped the quality of the movie wasn't going to be an omen for the rest of the trip.
Christchurch itself is very - and I mean VERY - similar to England. Once again there are familair names left right and centre. It seems as if most of the founding fathers of this town were from where I lived as there are districts here called Bromley; Beckenham; Sydenham and Shirley. Also the buildings look like English buildings and the plants look like English plants, and the climate isn't far off English weather, which thankfully hasn't included rain (yet). The only thing that took this edge off was a Maori dance group performing in Cathedral Square, and I was also quite pleased to see my first haka of the journey.
The things to do here are very quaint. For instance there is a cathedral you can go into; you can go punting on the River Avon; there are restored trams from the 1920s you can ride etc. I personally had a look round some of these things and also at a museum which charted the history of the town and the Maori etc, and also at a local aquarium, which included a kiwi house. I was fortunate enough to see the strange bird, and all I can say is that it looks like a very large feathery kiwi fruit with legs and a beak. It also had a habit of shuffling around the undergrowth in the enclosure with it's long beak.
One thing I should say is, when planning a round trip of New Zealand which occurs over Easter weekend, book it fairly soon in advance. I made the mistake of turning up and booking what accomodation remained in a mad rush. Still that being sorted now, and no more confounding days off occuring during my time here, I shouldn't have many more worries out here. Still I think this trip is going to feel like a bit of a rush at the end.