Christchurch and environs, Fri-Sun 11/25-27
A whole lotta shakin' goin' on ... but not while we're in town, thank goodness. At least nothing strong enough that we felt. That massive 7.8 earthquake that struck near Kaikora (roughly 115 miles from Christchurch northeast along the coast), did damage parts of the city, but Christchurch hasn't recovered from two previous, but shallower and less intense, earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Personally, I was dismayed to see so much of the city that hadn't been touched, as in repaired or torn down and rebuilt. Look at photo I took from our room of the Anglican Cathedral below, fenced and unusable, and it's future remains uncertain ... this from the June 2011 earthquake! A lot of the central city remains in limbo.
In the meantime, parishioners have been meeting in the Cardboard Cathedral, which we walked to from our hotel. Designed by Shigeru Ban, it's a lovely little temporary building, pictured below.
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Saturday we were up early and looking forward to our coach trip to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula and our Dolphin Cruise, but, phooey, we were thwarted by wind! Akin to Chinook winds or the notorious Santa Ana Winds of Southern California, today's high winds meant no cruise to see dolphins, bird nesting sites, fur seals or penguins. Boats can't go out on days like these. Well, heck.
But we had a gorgeous drive, over hill and dale, and fluorescent spring green!
Historic Akaroa itself was a fine little town to explore (in the wind; bad hair day!) -- it retains its French flavor from settlement long ago. The gardens and flowers were really beautiful, with a magical rainbow of colors and scents. I enjoyed that. We covered the main street and walked a bit by the beach ...
... including a trip to see Akaroa Lighthouse. now ornamental rather than functional.
Seems that every town/city has a war memorial, and Akaroa had a stunning one. I think you can just make out Jimmy's red backpack in the center. Many of these memorials were originally dedicated to WWI veterans, but eventually WWII vets were recognized. How tropical this looks with the palm trees!
Lunch was on Road Scholar, and a group of us chose Ma Maison, a waterfront eatery, where we all ordered a stellar seafood chowder. Nice views. Norman, left, and Jimmy on the right leave the restaurant.
Cute, Jimmy. Who's the artist?
So, on our way back to Christchurch, we stopped at and tromped through what was called a lowland podocarp forest.
But this wasn't part of the forest.
These Shelducks, Dad and Mom and Junior, were seen on the way in. I didn't get any good pics of the podocarp forest, cause the trees were too tall. My camera battery had petered out anyway and most of my photos are phone shots.
And finally, before we returned to the hotel, we dropped by Lincoln University, home to original Elder Hostel in NZ. Beautiful library building, below, with our admiring group in front. Jimmy decided to sit on the curb to check it out!
Built in 1878.
Finally, Saturday night, close to 10pm, as I was getting ready to hop in bed, I heard pops outside that sounded a lot like, um, fireworks? Well, how nice of Christchurch and/or Road Scholar to arrange a fireworks spectacular for us on our last evening here (tongue in cheek, of course)! Seen from our window -- cool beans!
Sunday morning, we had one more bit of adventure to enjoy before flying to Invercargill, at the tippety-bottom of New Zealand's South Island. Tell you tomorrow!