Christchurch: A City Ready to Rebuild

Friday:  Dunedin to Christchurch

On Friday morning, after a late morning start (we left at 10am), we took a scenic 6+ hour drive along the Inland Scenic Route from Dunedin to Christchurch.  One of our first stops on the drive north was to the Moeraki Boulders.  This site contains 60 million year old spherical boulders that only in the last several hundred years recently became visible through erosion.

After our stop at the Moeraki Boulders we continued north along the Inland Scenic Route, a recommendation we received a few days ago.  This route was somewhat unexpected as we encountered newly fallen snow!  Though none was on the road, the views were spectacular as we made our way through to Christchurch.

We arrived into Christhurch later in the afternoon and checked into the Tree House, our first homestay of the trip.  Our host, Ken, the owner of the home, along with his wife, Nina, and son share their home with guests with three rooms available on any given day.  We checked into our King Suite, with a huge King sized bed, flat screen TV, picture windows looking out onto the garden outside.

We pulled together a dinner of Tomato Basil Risotto and Caesar salad and called it a night.

Saturday:  Christchurch

Christchurch is a city in transition.  Following 3 devastating earthquakes over the last year (the first anniversary of the quakes takes place, Sunday, September 4th), the battle scars of the last 3 strikes remain everywhere in this city.  Brick facades that were damaged are all over the city.  The Red Zone (downtown city zone still off limits to everyone) can only be described as complete devastation.  There are cracks everywhere and there is a lot of work still to be done.  There are plenty of stark reminders from our own earthquake, even now more than 20 years later, and your thoughts immediately turn to the people that continue to work through and attempt to press forward even as more than 8,000 earthquakes have struck in the last year.   In fact, in the last 5 days, there have been another three quakes at or near magnitude 5.

Many tourist activities are limited or simply not available, as they primarily exist in the current Red Zone, have folded due to lost revenue, or will require extensive repair before they can return to service.  It was our goal in coming to Christchurch to remind folks that there is a lot to appreciate, do, and enjoy here and an amazing community that is determined to see things through to help rebuild and bring the energy that is already here back to visitors that will hopefully return as the facilities and accommodations permit.
We spent the day today in Hadley Park in the Southwest center of the city and spent our beautiful morning (the weather was amazing) Punting on the Avon.  Think gondola in Venice and you are in the right ballpark.  We enjoyed a pleasant ride with our punter, James, a university student here in Christchurch.  Though the visitor traffic is down, he is looking forward to a stronger summer season and allowed us to enjoy a great trip up and down the Avon.

From here, we traveled to Addington and spent the morning at a local breakfast place with a twist — they had a laundromat there!  As dozens of patrons came through — families, workers, friends, and it was a bustling, loud, and fun environment.  This was inspiring and provided the community vibe that we were hearing about in the Christchurch area.  People coming together to spend time together, share a meal, and remember that it is possible to return to a regular routine and to use that foundation to build on for all of the things to come in this community.

We did our laundry, enjoyed some great GF treats, and enjoyed the sunshine!  From here, we returned to our place, the Tree House, and starting getting ready to say goodbye to New Zealand.  We needed to pack and clean up to make our weight requirements for our flight to Sydney.  We head out at 7am tomorrow morning, so as we transition to Australia, we’ll need to figure out how best to keep up the website, Facebook, and the pictures.  We’ll get that worked out and we’ll make sure we let you know!  Thanks for continuing to support The Next Journey and we look forward to sharing even more with you from Australia in the coming weeks!

Check out the Photo Page for the latest pics from the trip!

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