21st- 26th May
It was a lovely drive from Kaikoura to Christchurch starting with a coastal drive then into hills and then mountains. We stopped in Amberley so Nath could get his hair cut then drove to the swimming baths just out of the city centre in Christchurch. After swimming, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi we drove to the city centre and went to the iSite to get some more info before heading to the free site we stayed at called Coes Ford. It was the only free site near Christchurch so was very busy, even with people living there! It was a massive field next to a river and it had toilets. It was an actual dedicated campsite and it was pretty convenient, half an hour drive from the centre.
On the 22nd we headed into the city, stopping at a dump station on the way. I accidentally dropped the lid of the toilet into the drain and I had to stick my hand in, in a plastic bag to fish it back out! Eewww!! When we got to town we went to Quake City, a museum and exhibition dedicated to the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 that destroyed the city. The earthquake in 2010 was 7.1 and badly damaged some building but nobody died. The 2011 earthquake was 6.3 and severely damaged so many buildings and homes and sadly killed 185 people. 70% of buildings in Christchuch have to be demolished/rebuilt and this is being done over a 10 year period. The devastation that the quake caused was horrendous and I cried about 5 times in the museum. After the museum we walked around the whole city centre about 10 times, visiting different sites of the rebuilt and regeneration, and spaces that have been added since the quake such as the cardboard cathedral and the re:start mall, shops and cafés in brightly coloured shipping containers. It really was awful to see the damage that was caused. There were derelict building everywhere, buildings being rebuilt and it was a bit like a ghost town as they were still rebuilding the CBD. For the night we stayed at the free campsite again at Coes Ford.
On the 23rd we checked into a paid site, Addington campsite, which was actually pretty much a trailer park where people lived. It wasn't very nice at all and very run down, but it was cheap enough and near pubs so it was good for us! For the rest of the day we went to Canterbury museum, which was free and pretty good. We then had another walk around the town seeing all the sights. For the night we had a couple of drinks in the van whilst getting ready and then headed out to a bar just down the road which had live singers. It was a proper local bar but it was nice so we never ended up going anywhere else and stayed there until it shut after midnight. It didn't really seem like there was that much nightlife around and because of the earthquake there wasn't much anymore.
On the 24th we spent the day at Orna Wildlife Park which was good! There were quite a lot of animals and we saw a kiwi (eventually) before we left! After the zoo we went to an all you can eat buffet which was beautiful!! We munched so much until we couldn't move!! For the night we stayed back at the free site, Coes Ford. It was always really busy with campers, cars and even tents! It was freezing overnight and we woke up in the van with the inside of the van froze over with a layer of ice! The lowest it got down to in NZ was -4. It was still nice during the days though.
On the 25th when we woke up the snow had laid on all the mountains all the way down. They were fully covered! It didn't lay on the ground in Christchurch though but it had laid on the ground in other towns. We drove to the Top 10 campsite in the morning and checked in, through a drive through check in! We got the van sorted and cleaned, packed our bags, which we had to seriously ram with things, shoes and boots hanging out of all our side pockets!! I was convinced my bag was going to be over 23kg (luckily it was 21kg). For our last night we went for a lovely Indian meal and then went to the cinema to watch The Spy, which was hilarious! It was so sad for it to be our last night. It has been such an amazing 2 months, the best of my life and the best place I ever been. It has been amazing but different scenery everywhere! I can't believe it's over but it's not something I will ever forget.
On the 26th we checked out and brought Dorris back, it was very sad to see her go! She's been good to us! We did 7925km in the van so a very good effort! We were at the airport early so we had a couple of hours to kill so we relaxed and got some food before getting on the plane to head off on our next adventure to Auz. I seriously can't believe how quick time has gone so far and that we have been away for 5 months! It's bitter sweet, so so sad to leave New Zealand and end of our official travelling trip but we are both excited to see what the next part brings! This really is the time of our life.... Where's next?!