New Zealand, so happy able to budget and squeeze this in before having to find a job (granted I can only afford to tour the south island but I hear it’s the pretty of the two). I land at a shockingly early time and jump in a cab to my hotel, BreakFree in Christchurch. I might only get several hours kip before kick out time but it was worth it.
I had only allowed myself just under a day in Christchurch, I heard that that was sufficient to see it as they were still slowly progressing the rebuild of the city since the earthquake sum 4 years ago. Once checked out I went for a walk around the city to find some breakfast and was amazed to see the extent of the earthquake damage and how little had been demolished and rebuilt. Obviously, insurance companies slowly down this progress, which is such a shame as the city is like something out of a war film. The shopping mall (Re:start) is a selection of shipping containers converted into shops, the cathedral is still half collapsed with pigeons setting up home in it. But a bit of colour is interjected into the city with large murals / paintings / artistic graffiti on the large bare walls of abandoned buildings. It’s such a sad and sorry place to be but highlights the impact an earthquake can make. I spent a bit of time hanging in the botanic gardens since it was such a lovely day and a couple of coffee shops.
Before getting my coach out of Christchurch and to Kaikoura, I visited the 185 Empty White Chairs Memorial for the 185 victims of the earthquake. A lovely tribute and shame that it is only to be a temporary memorial, it’s sad to see the list of names of the people who lost their lives in the earthquake. Feeling a bit depressed by the city, not that it can be helped, it was nice to be getting on a bus, using Intercity and a flexible ticket pass, to Kaikoura a few hours away. The journey was beautiful as the night set in and I was looking forward to seeing the natural beauty of this country and I knew it was famed for.