Arrived in New Zealand on the 4th Jan and spent three days in Christchurch, bunking at a hostel that was once a jail up until the 1900's. Hopefully this will be my first and only stay in the big house!
Spent the first day in Christchurch with Norman, a German guy I met at the hostel. We walked into the CBD to view the damage caused by the earthquake. This area remains fenced off from the public. It was quite shocking to see half a building with its inner furnishing exposed. I am so fortunate to live in a country where natural disasters like this do not haunt us. However, since my arrival in NZ they have experienced a few smaller quakes.
Checked out a brilliant clothing exhibition at Cnaterbury museum. Very lady Gaga esq designs! Sat in the botabical gardens for the afternoon before heading to the pub for a few swift ones with Norm and a Scottish girl from the hostel.
Before I left Chrsitchurch I had the opportuntiy to experience a decent earthquake. Awoken by the bed shaking; it was at this point that I realised that bottom bunk has its disadvantages.
Picked up the Kiwi experience bus from Chrsitchurch to Kaikoura, a quiet sea resort. Translation of Kaikoura, "to eat Crayfish." Wandered through a walkway of whale jaw bones and observed a seal colony chilling out on the rocks. From here we ventured North through to Kaiteriteri where I did a short walking trip through the Abel Tasman National park.
In Westport the Kiwi Exp group had an evening bonfire on the beach, toasting marshmellows and watching the sunset. At Lake Mahinapua we stopped at Les's place. The oldest publican in NZ, and no doubt the most 'interesting'.
The real highlight of New Zealand thus far has to be the Franz Joseph glacier hike. An 8 hour trek up the glacier, climbing over granite and ice, up and down carved steps, and jumping over crevices. Excellent fun!!