We were right in the middle of the city. I use the term "city" loosely. More accurately, we were right in the middle of a sea of temporary fences, traffic cones, and parking lots. 70% of the city was damaged or razed by the earthquake seven years ago. What's going on in Christchurch these days is construction. Lots of it. Dawn to dusk. Every day.
Right in front of the entrance to our place, was start of a city tram tour. Christchurch has a few historic, restored tram cars that operate on a loop through the city. We hopped on and rode the loop. There is quite a bit of the city that has been reconstructed with lots more underway or planned. For all that wasn't there, there is still quite a bit going on and Christchurch is an enjoyable place to stay.
|Brand new shops and offices|
|Old Brill tram rolls through the rebuilt city.|
|New construction everywhere|
|They used old 20' shipping containers for temporary shops while new, permanent ones were being constructed.|
|Tram rolls down street with shops anc cafes.|
Lots of public art in the city, old and new.
|WWI memorial. WWI memorials are in nearly every city in New Zealand.|
|Art memorializing those who died in the earthquake|
The one piece still in limbo is the huge Anglican Cathedral that is the heart of the city.
|Building is mostly a loose collection of stones.|
After the tour and walking around the city for a while, we rented a car and headed out on a day trip to Akaroa, a small harbor town to the southeast of the city. This was our first introduction to New Zealand driving.
New Zealand didn't spend a lot of money on highways. They didn't need to. There are only 4.5 million people in the country with less than a million on the south island. Roads connect everywhere, but not much was spent on cuts and fills. If a hill was is the way, the road just winds up one side and down the other. They didn't waste money on bridges, either. Nearly all the bridges in the rural parts of the south island are single lane. The longer ones have small pullouts in the middle to allow meets between opposing vehicles. The roads are generally narrow, with little or no shoulder.
Akaroa is a picturesque town on a bay off the Pacific Ocean. We wandered along the waterfront, had a nice dinner and headed back to Christchurch, stopping for a bit of big, dark, star gazing.
|On the road to Akaroa|
|Sheep being herded...|
|...by this dog|
|On the road to Hanmer Springs|
|One lane bridge|
|Along the trail on the hike|
On the way, we hit two wineries for tastings. One was a small mom and pop vineyard that started making wine almost as an afterthought. We sipped some nice white wine while we chatted with the owner and made friends with her dog. The second stop was a big-time winery. We got a rather educational and targeted tasting and took off at dusk for Christchurch.
Tomorrow, TransAlpine Express!