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Published: November 12th 2018
October 29 ( am writing this 2 weeks later , haven’t had time to write a blog )
It was with some trepidation that I arrived in Christchurch about 2 weeks ago ...as many of you know I was in the centre of Christchurch on February 21 2011 when the big earthquake struck ( see my previous blog about that ) and I have always felt that I was definitely one of the lucky ones to escape with my life and no injuries. Staying in the suburb of Cashmere with friends Diane and Dave I was pleasantly surprised to see that the houses around them which had been wrecked were mostly rebuilt , roads repaired and it felt ok. But then Diane drove Jenny and I around and I could see huge swathes of land where there had previously been houses and now it was green fields no buildings allowed but with the odd street sign sticking up .... along the coast at Sumner houses still tottered on the edge of cliffs where massive falls had occurred , a huge landmark rock had just exploded into bits. Then we got into the city centre which I think I expected to
see it rebuilt somewhat like it was. Not a bit of it !! I couldn’t recognise where I was , I was totally disorientated , the cathedral ruins still lie there and where we had walked after the earthquake struck was completely obliterated . It was a building site ...so much was still flattened cleared plots of land , construction sites . I was now seeing the aftermath 7 years on and it greatly upset me , even now writing about it I feel very emotional. Yes there were new buildings , shopping malls, a beautiful new library , and I could see some remnants of the old city centre streets...but my brain couldn’t take it in. It was was a big shock, most of the time we drove around I was speechless. I didn’t particularly like the new cardboard cathedral and most moving was a memorial which had been put up by locals ...a set of different chairs and seats , even a baby seat all painted white and representing those who lost their lives. And there are no photos from that drive around ...I could not do it. We went to the Quake centre which is a small
A wall of ferns
Thanks Jenny for this photo.
museum which does give visitors a good representation of what it was like for everyone involved.
Dave picked us up later and took us to the Botanic Gardens for a walk which was when I started to gain some sort of equilibrium with my emotions, everyone here has lived through the impact, then the aftermath and the rebuilding gradually ...and I was experiencing it in one day . Beautiful gardens , the power of nature restores the soul and lots of hugs from Diane and Dave and I was ready with Jenny to set off on the rest of the South Island adventures.
Second day of rain in Christchurch...what the heck ...never mind the rain let’s all 4 of us go to Akoroa for fish n chips so off we went driving up and down over steep hills, round bend after bend ( I was beginning to remember what NZ roads are like !!) A stop at Little River craft shop , coffee shop and art gallery yielded up the best cream cheese and pumpkin muffin in the world. Still in pouring rain at Akoroa we dashed in and out of the library, craft shops,the excellent good museum
, walked along the jetty and finally got our fish n chips, eating them with great gusto !!
Sunshine followed the rain of the previous days and as we drove to the West Coast across Arthur’s Pass we could see the snow capped Southern Alps in all their glory, and so the wow moments had begun. This is my third time in NZ but Jenny’s first so I am revisiting some places again but also there will be lots of new adventures . First of all we had to give our trusty car (loaned to us by the lovely Dave ) a name so after some hours driving it came to Jenny .. “he’s called Colin” and so he was. At every opportunity on our drives we would stop and do a walk , the sites of interest or viewpaoonts are well signed and well done New Zealand there are always toilets and well marked paths to walk. Castle Hill Rocks are a stunning outcrop and a short walk right amongst the towering rocks and climbing higher we reached Arthurs Pass and then down into the Otira Gorge with the river rushing down. ( Thanking our lucky stars for
our timing as last week the Pass was closed with snow and flooding had caused one of the bridges to be washed away ...so we wouldn’t have made it !!). Stopping at the gorge Jenny had her first encounter with Keas , these are large green NZ parrots which hop about round the stationary cars eating bits of door trim, windscreen wipers .... an they are quite cheeky they don’t move when you approach .
The wind was blowing fresh when we got to the ocean at Hokitika beach which was pebbles littered with large branches and tree stumps and from which someone had cleverly made a Hokitika sign. We had a great stay in an Airbnb 3 bedroom bungalow all to ourselves , and you know I like bargains so at £58 we were quite happy and as it was a bit chilly the owner Fred lit the wood burner so we were very cosy ...but I am missing something out ...he told us to drive up the Hokitika Gorge and see the blue pools. We’re they really blue we thought ? That was worth driving a few more kms as we tramped through a lovely forest with
tree ferns and crossed a suspension bridge to see a really really blue River and really really blue pools ! Jenny doesn’t really like crossing these suspension bridges even though I don’t jump up and down on them to scare her but I must admit she’s been very brave and is begging to conquer her fear ...I think.
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