The time has come to say goodbye to this extraordinarily beautiful island. It had to end some time. I had the most wonderful 10 days here. Being an English speaking country made it all that more easier and enjoyable as you could talk to locals and understand the commentaries much better. I was very skeptical about going on a tour with Haka Tours as it was targeting a younger group, below 30s and was a bit afraid that I would be left out while the others went on bungy jumping, para gliding and freefall jumps. The alternative was to tour with older people probably Chinese or Japanese. That is another thing you notice, the number of Chinese tourists. With the increasing number of middle class what happened with Japan in the 70s and 80s is happening in China now.
I was very happy with my choice. Of course I did not do bungi jumping but was able to do some trekking, jet boating in a canyon, speed tracks not to mention more sedate trips to Milford Sound and Whale Watching. This has to be most beautiful part of the world. But that beauty also comes at a
cost. The forces that made the beautiful rain forest and the snow covered peaks are still at work, changing the landscape further, as evidenced in the recent earthquakes. Humans do adapt to the conditions very well, in the quake prone areas most of the smaller buildings are timber based now and most concrete structure are made withstand earthquakes..
It does not matter how much I try to exalt the beauty of the place I do not think I can do justice to it. Everywhere you look next, every turn of corner in your drive you find always something enchanting and unique.
When I did my initial walk-abouts around Christchurch I only saw the disaster that happened to the city. Everywhere I looked most buildings seem to be in a boarded/ blocked-off state it made me wonder how long it is going take to restore it to its former glory. When I thought about it what you see only tell half the story. I am told that a lot buildings that originally thought were safe now will have to be demolished. There are constant road works, repairing road surface, digging it up to fix leaking mains water and sewage
Another thing that impresses you is the willingness of the government to give the Maori language and culture the support it needs. It shows the maturity of the democratic systems here compared to some who say everything not according to their "book" has to be purged. The leaders can win elections with a massive majority pandering to their ideological stance which makes a farce of the word "democracy".
And another thing about the place, the people are really laid back and go out of the way to help strangers, it could be the master of your train or your driver on the shuttle for the hotel, all make you feel welcome. I can see a good future for NewZealand in tourism, only blot is the high value of the NZ$ which is changing somewhat already.
If ever, and I hope I can, I want to take an extended holiday probably a minimum of 2 months in a camper-van with the Mrs so that we are free to roam about, go to the untrodden tracks and do whatever we feel at the time. That would be my perfect idea of a holiday out of this world.
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