Majella and I drove to Brisbane with Mum last night and stayed with Helen and John to avoid a very early start from Toowoomba this morning. Helen made us dinner of lamb steak and salad which we enjoyed with a glass or two of The Musician by Majella – the wine Majella likes to impress people with from time to time.
We hit the beds early, planning to be up at 5:30 am and gone by 6:00 am. As it happened we all woke earlier than that and we were easily on our way to the airport ahead of schedule. Access from the Gateway to the airport has changed since we last used it and we found ourselves at the airport after missing the turn we should have taken to Andrew’s Airport Parking. Since we were there we dropped our passengers and headed back to park.
By the time we returned to the airport in the shuttle Glen and Debbie had joined the group we dropped. We checked in, filled our forms and headed downstairs to security and immigration. Mum was puzzled by the procedures but managed OK.
We exited into the duty free store where we picked up some goodies to be collected on our return and a bottle to take with us. I headed back to retrieve the GST from my new camera while the others went in search of coffee. We just had time to drink that before we headed off to board – down two escalators and across the pavement.
A bit less than 3 hours saw us crossing the coast of New Zealand where we saw some snow capped mountains poking through the clouds before we landed in Christchurch. Glen was almost sent back from immigration when the SmartGate declined him but they did eventually let him through. Baggage collection was reasonably easy but we had to queue to get out through Customs. We found the rental car desk and arranged that and I picked up a new Vodaphone SIM with 5 GB for $30 before we left.
Our checkin at the motel revealed a minor mixup with the booking. We had booked a 3 bedroom Executive Suite for 2 nights but the motel record was for just one – Saturday – so it took a little time for the staff to arrange alternative rooms for us.
We dropped our bags and headed off to find food – Majella was starving. The cafe at Fendalton shopping centre had no food. Nor did the one down the road. Majella opted for a burger at the same takeaway we had eaten at in February. Everybody but me joined her. I wandered back to the supermarket and bought two apples – much healthier though not so filling.
We procured some basic groceries and drinks and dropped those back at the motel before heading to the Botanical Gardens. We wandered about and enjoyed the roses and giant sequoia trees.
From the gardens we drove closer to town and walked to the Cathedral Square through the Re-Start Mall which has been constructed using shipping containers after the earthquake. We walked from there to the transitional (cardboard) cathedral. To save Mum some walking I headed back to the car and drove back to collect the rest of the group.
Next stop was Sumner Bay. We walked briefly on the beach and then ate at a cafe with a view of the bay. Mussells, scallops and risotto were the order of the day.
Back at the motel we enjoyed some Baileys and/or red wine and looked at our photos from the day before crashing for the night.