Let the adventure begin! We’ve arrived in Christchurch and our tentative plan is Christchurch to Mount Cook to Queenstown to Te Anau and Milford Sound to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers to Kaikora back to Christchurch – basically just a big loop all around the South Island and I’m so excited.
Christchurch fascinated me. It was hit by an intense earthquake in 2011 and hasn’t quite recovered since. It seems to be eroded, giving you a sense of loneliness as you walk by buildings from which panels fall and homes and centers like movie theaters or
churches that stand broken, with fallen walls and caved in ceilings. It’s a quiet city. There are few people in the streets and little going on – a stark contrast to the bustle and bright noise of Sydney. But there’s hope shining through and that is evident. When I think of my impression of Christchurch I picture a small white flower, early in it’s budding, growing through the cracks of concrete. Life always pushes through.
You see the life popping up in the city planning. Some buildings are back up but it looks like they prioritized recovering parks and sections of natural beauty. They’re working on art centers and museums. The area where the worst devastation occurred is covered in colorful banners and artwork and a wall of bright rainbow flags hides the demolished visitor center. Modern sculptures adorn the streets and walking through, you have no choice but to feel the hope surging up through. Christchurch is rebuilding, slow but steady.
Pete, Bennett and I left Sydney at 8 pm and arrived in Christchurch at 5 am with an out-of-the-way layover Melbourne. Alistair, Pete’s brother’s friend, picked us up and he and his flat mates took us in, letting us sleep on their couches, hanging out with us, making sure we were comfortable and giving us heaps of advice for the rest of our trip. They took us to a friend’s house on Friday night to play poker – Bennett and I both had to learn but we picked up quick and loved hanging out and joking around with our new Kiwi friends. On Saturday, Alistair took us out to Mount Richardson for a day hike which was challenging but rewarding. The view of mountain ranges from the summit gave me a sense of really finally being in New Zealand. We went to a rugby game after that (the Crusaders beat the Brumbies) which was awesome and made it back to make dinner and hang out with our new friends.
We unfortunately missed our car rental pick up so we ended up spending today in Christchurch as well, planning out the rest of our trip and hanging out. I’m really looking forward to get going on the road tomorrow!