We arrived in New Zealand February 7, 2020 for three months. (until COVID-19 extended our visit). Who knew one could run out of superlatives in the first two weeks! This blog segment begins in Auckland, North Island, and moves to Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula on South Island. Future blogs will take us across mountains, fiords, and volcanos!
“Haere Mai!” (Welcome!)
Hello – “Kia Ora” (Kee ora). More than a greeting, it acknowledges you and everything about you, including where you came from – “wishing you the essence of living life!”
No jet lag! An easy flight from Honolulu – 7,175 km. We join friends Carol and Bill, arriving from Colorado. The four of us have a plan – two months on South Island and one on North. The first days are spent in Auckland.
Auckland – We sailed to two islands on the Hauraki Gulf for 1) hiking up an extinct volcano on Rangitoto, and 2) most joyfully…renting ebikes to ride to vineyards on Waiheke Island.
From Auckland to Stop #2, Christchurch
Christchurch – In February, 2011 the epicenter of a 6.2 earthquake struck 4.2 miles from city center. Within the 4 avenues of the city’s core, 80% of the buildings collapsed or were demolished. In a suburb, 10,000 homes were destroyed. The collapsed tower of the iconic Anglican Cathedral left a gaping hole in town center and people’s hearts. Only recently, after legal battles, it was announced that the cathedral would be rebuilt.
Memorial: Individual chairs memorialize each of the 185 people who died.
The Transitional (Anglican) Cathedral, designed by Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, is called “The Cardboard Cathedral” because of interior elements and cardboard covered beams.
The rebuilding continues and in some places is just beginning. The lengths that Christchurch has gone to rebuild their city are astounding.
For more about the earthquake, click on any of the bulleted links below:
- Just Passing Through, ChristChurch: Nine Years After The Big One
- Wiki – ChristChurch Earthquake 2011
- New Zealand History Earthquake 2011
Christchurch’s beauty is evident in the Botanical Gardens. We love the trees!
Art is an important component of the city’s rebuilding and the bull/piano sculpture below symbolizes “standing strong”. Throughout the city the art is progressive, including the quirky “Fred and Myrtle’s Paua Shell House” found in the Canterbury Museum.
Out to the country
A day trip to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, west of Christchurch. The learning curve for driving on the left was quick as we drove over hills and curves. The beauty was beyond words around the vibrant town of Akaroa.
About that driving: Signage CLEARLY points you in the correct direction at every turn. Gasoline costs the equivalent $5.20 USD/gallon USD, more or less.)
Hug An Alpaca!
The best was yet to come at the Shamarra Alpaca Farm across the harbor from Akaroa. With 160 grazing alpacas, it was a joy to meet and hug a buddy!