© 2012 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. Christchurch in Re-birth

New Zealand – Christchurch – 2nd-7th Jan

During the final week of our time in New Zealand we settled into our little cabin after one final nights stay in the van on the 1st. We met our Swiss friends at their hostel on the 2nd with hopes of getting to a Post Office to exchange ownership details. It was still classed as the Public Holidays and we were told nothing would be open until the 4th!

This did put a little spanner in the works but fortunately for us we had already picked up the ownership forms when we first got the van and so back at our camp we all sat around the table exchanging details and for that night they decided to stay at our holiday park. We figured that the next morning if nothing was going to be open we would let them leave with “Po” and trust them to complete the ownership changeover without us being there to witness it. We did this too when we bought the van but it is recommended that you don’t let the van go until you see proof of change, however there had to be some lenience as otherwise they’d be having to stay with us for the next 2 days.

After money was exchanged and forms signed we handed over the keys and retreated in our cabin! The night before we’d experienced a 5.5 earthquake when we were in the van and more were happening throughout the day. When our Swiss friends eventually left the next morning with “Po” we waved them goodbye and were ready for a week of not really doing much.

The cabin was a good space with bunk beds, a desk, chairs, a fridge and some drawers we were being spoiled with all this space! The only problem was that most of the tremors were taking place around 10km away from us at sea and so we felt nearly all of them most of the time. It was an unsettling week of aftershocks having never experienced anything like this before, and before long we were guessing the scale of the shock followed by Dave who would look it up on GeoNet A website which updates every 5 minutes after each tremor.

During that week we took the number 5 bus nearly every day to either do a little shop, change money or go to the beach. One day we went to the Christchurch Museum in the CBD, it reopened in September and is host to historical and contemporary artefacts. The same day we walked around the gated closed off area of the city centre. It sits still like a ghost-town with a few people photographing what they see. Its a sad state of affairs as the city can’t really move on with all the aftershocks taking place and it’s going to take a long time for the recovery. We really hope that something positive starts to happen as we could tell it was taking its toll on people who live there.

One little spark of positivity comes out of the Cashel Street Restart, a purpose made shopping area of shipping containers located the fringe of the city. It actually looks really cool and has coffee shops, some eateries, fashion and gift shops. There was a little hive of activity going on but as Dave said with an air of sombreness.

Back on our side of the city we enjoyed a day at Sumner Beach which sadly has also been badly affected by the earthquakes. The beach itself is fine but the houses on the cliff tops…not so good. We watched surfers waiting for big waves and Helen had a bit of a beach day, although the sun didn’t really come out.

Towards the end of the week we managed to meet up with our friends Vic and Dave and enjoyed a walk around the Botanical Gardens followed by a tasty pub dinner in one of the pubs still open in the area. It was lovely to see them again and we look forward to hanging out with them in Melbourne further on in our travels.

And that was that, we were waken nightly by earthquakes and on the last night we experienced a 5.2 which felt far worse being in our cabin than a 5.5 in the van. Helen panicked and thought we would be stuck out in Brighton, unable to get the shuttle to the airport in the morning, but alas at 7.30am when the shuttle arrived we knew we would be getting to our flight out.

We were definitely ready to leave after what felt like a long week but sad to say goodbye to a country we have loved travelling in and enjoyed and now have such a bank of memorable occasions and places. New Zealand is a real treat, a home from home, safe, clean, beuatiful and very welcoming.

Next stop, Sydney, Australia.

(Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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