Sunday, August 4, 2013
New Zealand - Day 21 Christchurch
We spent our last full day (and our New Year's Eve) in Christchurch. I had read about the severe damage of the 2011 earthquake. A lot of things of places of interest are still closed. However, this was part of what I loved about Christchurch. It is also a city where people live. And these people are doing everything they can to re-build their city.
I really enjoyed checking out the creative, temporary solutions business owners came up with to keep their business open. For example, Re: START mall has stores and restaurants housed in large shipping containers. The bright colored containers, plenty of people milling around, and a great selection of stores made for a perfect afternoon. The General Store had amazing, unique gifts and souvenirs (not cheap airport gift shop kind of stuff) to bring home to friends and family (and of course I got a couple of things for us). Another example is the outdoor bar, Smash Palace, with it's bar in an old bus and cute seating set up all around the bus. Loved it!
The shipping container mall, Re:Start, backs up to chain link fences, blocking people from going into the neighborhoods that are still devastated by the earthquake. We saw plenty of rubble, broken windows, and many of the roads were still very damaged.
Steeple to the church must have fallen off!
We stayed at The George right across the street from Hagley Park. It was a great treat for New Years Eve. When we arrived, they sent champagne and brownies to our room. The room was a spacious suite with a huge bathroom with a jetted tub and a separate shower. My favorite little perk was coming back to our room to find our bed folded down, robes laid out, and a little stuffed bear named George that we got to take home!
Our New Year's Eve was pretty mellow considering how tired we were from 21 days of traveling and adventuring. However, it was nice to get cleaned up and dressed up and go out on the town for awhile. We had dinner at the 50 Bistro right in the hotel, and then out to Smash Palace for drinks.
The following morning, we took a beautiful run around Hagley Park. I am sure there are other neighborhoods worth exploring in Christchurch, but I feel like a day was a good amount of time to spend there. The bottom line is there is so much to explore in New Zealand and although we saw a ton, there is so much we didn't get to see. Our next trip would need to include more places on the North Island and Kaikoura, Mt. Cooke, and the Catlins on the South Island. I also would've liked to spend more time in certain places, like Wanaka, Queenstown, Abel Tasman, and Nelson Lakes. Allyson and I talk about spending a year in New Zealand after she finishes grad school. That's only a year from now, so I guess we'll see. Otherwise, we will definitely get back there after we check a few more places off our bucket list.
New Zealand...you blew my mind. I planned this trip for over a year and got myself so excited that I was worried you wouldn't live up to my expectations. You exceeded them. What you don't get from the guidebooks is every road you drive on feels like you are in the most beautiful place in the world. If it were up to me, we would have stopped the campervan at every turn on every road to take a picture. Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous quote reads "Life is a journey, not a destination." In New Zealand, life is both the journey and the destination and every moment in between. Your people are friendly. Your fish and chips are out of this world! And I'm hooked on your Sauvignon Blanc. Thank you for the most amazing honeymoon two ladies could ever have dreamed of.
From the car....