Feeling right at home in Christchurch and we got the opportunity to explore the surrounding region to experience a proper NZ Autumn / Winter.......
Unbelievably, we were still getting gorgeous sunshine and temperatures up towards 20 degrees and so it was time to let Scrappy Doo loose on the open road again and feel like we were in the middle of nowhere again! First off we headed just 13km north of ChCh to Spencerville which is in the middle of a lagoon and unspoilt wetlands which are a sanctuary of every kind of shorebird you could think of...Anna did a good impression of a bird watcher whilst there! It was brilliant to go just a short distance from the demolition site that is the CBD to experience a natural wonder right on our doorstep. Homewards brought us to New Brighton (a must for those from the original Brightonia) and though quake damaged you have to admire the new-ish pier built thanks to lots of local donations as well as from Council coffers. It's great to explore more of the suburbs and feel more familiar with this contrasting city as it recovers from its trials and tribulations.
Still close to
home we revisited the Port Hills and the Sugar Loaf which is fast becoming one of favourite spots ever as it is a stone's throw from the city but gives incredible views of the Main Divide and Lyttleton Harbour. We embarked on the circular 1 hour trail around the Sugar Loaf which did bring us to a bit of rockfall but also some of the most inspiring views of the of our adventure so far. Another gorgeously hot day in the sun and refreshingly chilly on the shade side, we had a fantastic time chatting and soaking up all the autumnal sights on offer....Scrappy looked particularly handsome on the cliff side!
Further afield, we planned a trip to small town called Geraldine (about 150km) from ChCh and a place we wanted to go to when we headed south to Timaru in March. A cold but sunny start saw us heading back towards Arthur's Pass to then take a sneaky left and into what would soon be ski country but at this stage was still uncovered mountain ridges and we passed Mount Hutt and Methven which now are probably heaving with winter sport adventurists.....Geraldine itself is a quaint little town
and boasts the the Giant Jersey which is a huge knitted jumper (see picture of little Anna for the scale!). We resisted the chocolate and jam shops and headed for the wee river trail for a little walk before heading back along SH1 and retracing some of our steps from a few weeks ago......it was a fantastic day and gave us a taste for further excursions nearby....
The Queen's Birthday / Jubilee gave us the chance to finally get to Banks' Peninsula and explore Akaora which is at the end of a brilliant windy drive up and down the gorges and valleys........even though it was a Bank Holiday we had amazing weather again and had a great time seeing the French influenced town (no patisserie though....) and experience a gorgeous coast line walk up to the lighthouse and then having our lunch by the harbour...........the views down the valley and across the coastal lakes are something to behold. As a final salute we went to Birdlings Flat with the biggest surf we had ever seen and unsurprising it's a beach that you cannot swim in at all.......it was a great day topped off with fish n chips with Kate,
Pete and the kids.......though we had no idea how the weather was to going to surprise us that week!
Two days after our sun kissed day out we woke up to a blanket of white outside our cabin door and just like back home everything came to a standstill as about 5 inches fell in a couple of hours. Up in the mountain passes well over a metre of snow fell and the news pictures of the snow ploughs ramming through it inch by inch to open the road to the West Coast were incredible. In true Celtic fashion we stomped our way through the snow to get provisions and experience a winter wonderland in June for the first time ever! It topped off our week of excursions nicely and broke up our days brilliantly....
Since then it's been the countdown to the big rubgy game here as Ireland take on the All Blacks and we have a few stories to share about all that one the series ends on 23 June....and then it's the rather small matter of Elaine's 40th
to go for after that – can't wait!!
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