Published: May 19th 2012May 19th 2012
The RED ZONE at Christchurch
All of the area highlighted in red is fenced off from the public, awaiting pulling down or rebuiliding. What devistation for the locals. Such a sad sight on our holiday.
OZ to NZ Travel and the first night in CHRISTCHURCH.
Our journey was a two legged hop, Adelaide to Melbourne and Melbourne to Christchurch. We had an early drop of at Adelaide Airport by my brother-in-law Peter and a swift journey through airport security and on to the boarding gate – things were going too well ....... I knew we might have a delayed take off when the plane hadn’t arrived by our departure time. Jet-Star was very quick to turn the plane around after its arrival though – well recovered Jet-Star. Jet-Star wouldn’t book our luggage through from Adelaide to Christchurch, rather we had to pick it up at Melbourne and re-check it in at the same airport – don’t know if this was another money saving idea by Jet-star, but it was a pain to do. A short hop to Melbourne and a walk to the other end of the terminal found us in a rather long queue for the flight to Christchurch. Eventually we got through all the normal red tape, and were on our way only 15 minutes late for the second leg of the journey. Are Jet-Star trying to achieve a
Our accomodation for the night. It was closed for 1 year after the earthquake - one of many many buildings.
reliability record like the old British Rail??
As normal, the cabin crew handed out an arrivals card for us to fill in prior to arriving at Christchurch, but an arrivals card with lots of bio-protection questions that we unfortunately had to answer yes to. Do you have any tents? Yes a hike tent – I wondered were they going to confiscate it? – one hears about the ruthlessness of border officials. Have you been walking in countryside recently –yes, in various places right across OZ. Were they going to disinfect my boots (they wouldn’t confiscate them, they were too smelly). Do you have any fruit, uncooked meat etc? Yes – a couple of apples to eat on the journey. I half expected that one but stupidly thought they might take pity and not force us to starve.
On arrival at Christchurch, we were processed by at least five different members of staff in succession. We dumped the apples in a bio-disposal bin. We had our boots inspected. No trifid seeds in the soles, so we were declared OK. They took our tent away and opened it up to make sure there were no nasty bugs or seeds etc lurking inside, but yahoo, we got it back. I will say all of the NZ border staff were very friendly and helpful and I had a pleasant conversation with one while my tent was being given the once over. And after all of that, all of our bags were passed through an X-ray machine for a final check to make sure we weren’t lying. And then unceremoniously through that final door into mainstream New Zealand.
We took public transport bus service 29 from the airport, $7.50 each, which was to drop us off next to Dorset House, where we were to stay. We had a conversation with the driver who casually mentioned that they had had a minor tremor the day before, but we shouldn’t worry. Aghh!. People in NZ must be rich as one of them left their Blackberry phone on the bus, which we handed to the driver. The driver literally stopped his bus opposite Dorset House, so we did not even need to walk from the bus stop, just cross the road. Friendly and helpful service indeed – a warm welcome by New Zealanders so far.
Dorset House is an up market hostel, highly recommended as a budget place to stay. Our double room was comfortable and with a telly and an electric blanket. It had all the normal facilities of a hostel as well with a communal kitchen and lounge if you wanted it. Our bed had its own built in earthquake warning system – slight movement and lots of ear-shattering squeaking resulted. Seriously though, the hostel was out of action after the 2010 quake, which was not funny. We were shocked to discover how badly affected the city was after the quake, and are desperately sorry for the locals. My perception was that it was only a number of old buildings were affected, but as of our arrival date, a huge proportion of the city centre, must be at least 25% of it, is designated as the Red Zone and is fenced off and inaccessible awaiting restoration. How do you recover from that? Staff at the hostel were exceptionally helpful, and booked a shuttle bus for us s to take us to our motor-home pickup location next to the airport and at only $12 each, much cheaper than a taxi. We had a good night’s sleep, and were ready next morning to face the rigours of touring a new country. And so – on to New Zealand proper.....