Even though the world scientific community won’t admit it, it’s definitely possible to travel through time. Take the trip from Australia to New Zealand which we undertook today. For a start you cross two time zones, as Sydney is 11 hours ahead of GMT, and Christchurch is 13 hours ahead. And a three hour flight means you arrive 5 hours later.
But that’s not what I was really meaning. What I really mean by time travel is leaving Australia in the 21st Century, and arriving in New Zealand back in the 20th! It is just like stepping back in time when you hit the ground in New Zealand. Its not the airport – that looks pretty modern. Its not even the transport – their buses are up there with the best of them, and are a million years ahead of the London Buses.
Its the rest of it – its the fact that when you walk down any street in New Zealand you see things which have just completely disappeared at home. Old, faded shop fronts, with window displays protected by yellow film; shop signs that look like they were painted 30 years ago, although you know they were only done last year. At first its a shock and surprise, but after a while it starts to become quite charming – the fact that you don’t feel afraid to cross the road because of the traffic, and the way that everybody seems so polite (crikey, am I showing my age or what?). I’m sure it’ll be different in other parts of New Zealand, but for the moment we feel like we’ve landed in 80’s England.
We tend not to book our accommodation in advance wherever we go, but that might be a problem in New Zealand. We phoned heaps of hostels from the airport, and they were all full. In the end we went to the accommodation booking office at the airport, who booked us into a motel near the centre of town. The airport bus dropped us about 1km away, and we walked the rest. Halfway there we had to stop to let the girls cool off (and get their first Hokey Pokey ice-cream!) This picture tells the story – Emily’s sitting amongst our luggage – the big black one contains the car seat and the uncompressed sleeping bags, so doesn’t weigh a huge amount, but the big green and black rucksack weighs about 27 kilos (yes, it’s getting heavier!) and so is a pain to even get on, let alone carry. Before we hit Asia we’re definitely going to have to lighten our load significantly (Car seat – gone! Sleeping bags – gone! Fleeces – gone!), but for the next month we’ll probably hire a car, so it won’t be a big problem.
Anyway, we got to our motel, and found that it had 76 rooms, and only two that were occupied – and when we looked around we realised why. It was grimmer than anywhere we’d stayed before, especially the ‘themed’ restaurant, which was completely done out to resemble a cowboy saloon, complete with bar men wearing chaps and guns in holsters. When we saw the ‘Howdy Partner. How d’you fancy a Fast Draw competition?’ poster, we decided that enough was enough, and we’d eat in our room. At least the weather was sunny, and perhaps tomorrow we can get into a hostel!