We left the Glaciers on a beautiful morning and started the long drive to Christchurch. (380km)
This was always going to be the longest drive to date and so we set off nice and early. The journey took us along the West Coast towards Greymouth and then right to head straight across the South island towards the East Coast via a beautiful road carved into the mountains called Arthurs pass.
Fortunately all the bridges and road slips on route had been repaired! The country seems to be in a never ending battle against nature to shore up the roads after each storm but they get on with it nice and quickly and normality is soon resumed.
We passed the Westland National Park and then made our way through Arthurs Pass. The mountains and scenery were fantastic, albeit the roads were narrow with huge drops into the canyons but again the Corrolla stuck to the roads!
As soon as we made it through the pass and the Craigeburn National Park we immediately noticed a change in the scenery. We had left behind flooded rivers, rainforest and waterfalls ......The countryside on the East coast is completely different with brown
fields, dry grass and little or no rainfall!
It was so hot and dry as we headed towards the East Coast that there had been bush fires in the area.
After 380 kilometers we hit Christchurch and our first set of traffic lights since hiring the car 1400km and only one week ago!
The outskirts were fine but our route took us into the City Centre where roads are permanently closed and buildings and even streets sealed off as they are still not safe after the earthquake in 2011. There is still much evidence of the damage caused by that quake and the hundreds since that have prevented the restorations from going ahead.
We checked into a 'boutique backpackers' hostel called Old Country House close to the City Centre and were given a lovely room with our own outside decking area and chairs where Madam enjoyed many glasses of wine! Much to the envy of our other 'backpacker' collegues who arrived on buses after long journies to find that they were sharing dorms and facilities.
I think that it was at this point that we realised that we aren't actually backpackers at all!
spent two days in the area and it was really sad to see the devastation.... especially the beautiful old Cathedral.
Annie had briefly visited Christchurch in 2007 whilst she was working in the Asia Pacific area for Manpower and her office and the hotel she stayed in were both gone.
A very sad place but hopefully it will come good in the future.
On Mon 14th Jan we left Christchurch and headed North along the East Coast towards Kaikura.
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