Blog Day 217 - Day 223 Thurs 8th - Wed 14th December 2011
Ok so this next section of blog is going to follow on in the same vein as Sydney and Melbourne. There were some days when nothing at all really happened and then there were other days when we ventured out and saw what was left of Christchurch. In the interest of keeping things moving we shall give you the vaguely interesting bits.
Most days started off in the same way (Curtis style eggs) then we checked out where things were in the area. First things first we had to do a bit of a food shop, curry bits needed buying in order to cook the girls our 'thanks for letting us stay' meal. As it turned out the Pack 'n' Save (Kiwi supermarket) was a good 30-minute walk away. A great idea on the way there, terrible idea on the way back carrying a crate of beers and 6 shopping bags in the pissing rain! Still it was all worth it as the curry went down a treat.
Before we ventured out too far we needed to sort out a rough plan of how we were going to get around and what we were going to do whilst in New Zealand. We both fancied the idea of getting another camper however with it being so close to Xmas trying to get one at a price that wasn't going to sink our budget was proving impossible. Renee had put us in touch with Aimee (her top girl in New Zealand). Emails were flying back and forth all week as Aimee tried to sort out transport and accommodation for us. In the end she managed to get us on the Stray (hop on hop off) bus for a fantastically low price…………………………… so low in fact it was free! Once we knew how we were getting around we could then plan out where we were going to be and when. Aimee said she could put us up in hostels in Queenstown, Wellington, Lake Taupo, Auckland, and Paihia (Bay of Islands). All she needed was dates, and with Xmas and New Years coming up we wanted to work the trip around being in one of those places at each time of year. So with all that finally sorted we could go and see some of Christchurch. Honestly if you think that was hassle reading that section it was worse trying to plan it.
We made it into the city center at the weekend and wow what an eye opener it was! First off were the container shops. Yes you read that right, container shops. An area of the city had been so badly damaged that buildings were knocked down (if they hadn't already fallen down) and in their place were shipping containers. These were brightly painted on the outside and were arranged into a little town. Cafes, various shops, even a bank (with fully working ATMs in the side) were fitted into these containers. It really was an ingenious idea!
This weekend a walk through the city had been set up which allowed people wander around and see what state the city was in. To say that it was an eerie walk is an understatement! The place looked like a movie set. Like something off the movie 28 Days Later or I am Legend. Dust from fallen buildings covered the streets, shop fronts were empty and in pieces, someone had even left their bike chained to a lamppost. And then we got to the cathedral. Such a shame. By the looks of things the cathedral spire towered above nearby buildings before the quake. Now the building is in an unbelievable state of repair. Its spire has gone and steel beams seem to be holding up what's left of the historic landmark.
After a while of walking around the devastation we make our way through the beautiful botanical gardens to a place called Riccarton. Here there is a Westfield shopping mall. We have been told about a movie that a local filmmaker has made called 'When A City Falls'. It's a documentary film that started being made after the first quake hit the city. It shows just how much the people of Christchurch came together as things went from bad to worse, through both quakes. We both had a tear in our eye by the end of the film.
Seeing it all on the big screen almost didn't make it real, if that makes any sense. As we walked around the shops we spoke to people about where they were and what they did at the time of the quakes. Only then did it sink in that this was all still so fresh in people's minds.
We had a few nights out with the girls during the week also. The first took place at a local brewery called The Brewery ……………… funny enough. To be honest neither of us can remember too much about that night so we'll just say we had a good time. The other evening out was at another local pub called Pegasus where we took place in pub quiz. This quiz takes place every Tuesday and it was easy to spot the people who were regulars, even the quizmaster gave everyone a little update on events that were going on in his life before the quiz started. It was a really nice night though even if we did only come 4th (I think).
We had a real mixed bag in terms of weather for our week in Christchurch. One day it would be glorious sunshine and the next would be hammering it down with rain. The rainy days were spent sorting out the trip and making use of the girl's Internet. Skype calls were made to family and we even got to see Dan's brand spanking new cousin Nicky. Congratulations to Steve and Julie!
The sunny days (all 2 or them) we just went for a wander. The girls had told us about a fantastic little coffee shop just around the corner so we popped in there for a spot of lunch one day. The coffee was good but the eggs benedict was even better!
With our time in Christchurch pretty much exhausted we looked forward to jumping on the Stray bus on Thursday and seeing what else New Zealand has to offer!