Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Christchurch - New Zealand

The flight was excellent.  There weren’t any delays and the Australian pilot was hilarious, when asking for foreign currency or any spare change for their sponsored charities he referred to those in need as ‘poor little buggers’ and that every day should be Christmas day for them!  We arrived in Christchurch feeling quite healthy and after a small interrogation in terms of what exactly Jersey was and whether we had a right to be here we went through Security to find our friend Abby from Jersey and her boyfriend Dan waiting for us in arrivals! It was great to see them both, they were flying to the North Island that day so we had a couple of drinks before getting our Bus.  We were dropped off and made our way to our guest house where we were to spend four days before collecting our campervan.  The first thing we noticed on the walk was the contrast in temperature; it was damn chilly here compared to Thailand as we are in New Zealand’s autumn! 

We eventually found the guest house which was probably the nicest accommodation we had stayed in so far as we had nice cosy and clean duvets and working heaters to help battle the chilliness.  We stayed in a shared apartment with an Israeli couple who were a lot of fun and took great pleasure in teaching us Hebrew and we all had a good laugh at our accents.  We did a thirty minute walk or so to the supermarket to grab a couple of things as we could now no longer afford to eat out as standard, it is pretty scary to see home prices again but good to find the home comforts we couldn’t get in Asia such as good cheese.  We were staying on the outskirts of the city as the CBD is closed off to a very large extent following the devastating February earthquake.  After having our dinner we were happy to hit the sack and get a good sleep.

One of many notices on the doors of houses effected by the earthquake

Some roadside rubble

One of the houses being demolished following the earthquake

The following day was an opportunity to do some sightseeing, unfortunately there weren’t too many sights to see.  Having walked around the area the aftermath from the earthquake is evident wherever you go.  Businesses are still looking to get back on their feet, houses are vacated and there is a notice slapped onto almost every door from the buildings inspectors dictating whether or not it is safe to enter or inhabit.  There are massive sections of road or pavement closed off around the city with cracks so large you can stand in them.  If you look towards the city it is possible to see entire office blocks looking lopsided and ready to collapse which they very well may do hence the perimeter security in place to stop you venturing further into the city.   

In full respect to the locals you wouldn’t know this had happened at all just by their defiant and jovial attitude, however from a selfish perspective the city now offers nothing to keep travellers for any length of time and this included us.  On our second day we called the hire company to move up our campervan collection to the next day.  That night we had a great time with the Israelis who offered to give us a lift to collect the van the next day as they were dropping off their rental car so that we did with the intention of either staying in it within Christchurch or moving on to Akaroa early if time allowed.

The checkpoint to the CBD

... and again
One of the roads affected by the earthquake

Some of the pavements were seriously affected too

One of the pavements that was badly torn up

"We will try to save this house" an example of the impact on people's lives
A poster for a cat that was potentially lost its owners?

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