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Monday, 25 March 2013

Trip #1 – 6 days in New Zealand (February 2013)

Ok so I know I set myself the goal of exploring Australia and all the great things we have here.....but a call from across the ditch to visit some mates was too strong. Plus the fact that I will soon have a full time job and not be able to get away so easily was a great excuse for a quick trip over to Christchurch to visit our Kiwi neighbours.

Overlooking Christchurch from Victoria Park
The last time I was in Christchurch was 2009 and therefore this was my first visit since the 2011 earthquake. Although I had seen a lot of pictures and footage of the city since, it was still quite a shock to see the city still so completely devastated. Obviously since the Feb 2011 earthquake a lot of work has been done, and this is evident, but so much of the city is still a mess and will be still for many years to come.

Christchurch Cathedral

But there are many great things emerging from the devastation, the popup spaces are great to see and it was encouraging to see so many people returning to the city centre and the container mall area. Obviously the cordoned off sections of the city are an attraction to visitors and those wanting to see and understand just how much the city was destroyed by the earthquake. While at times it feels like you shouldn’t be in the city to look at the destruction, it is now part of the city’s history and something that needs to be remembered and not forgotten about.

The new container mall area in the city centre

But Christchurch isn’t just about what happened in the earthquake and while I was only there for a quick trip and to catch up with mates its somewhere definitely worth checking out before heading off to explore the rest of what New Zealand has to offer (there’s my New Zealand Travel Expert past coming back! But it’s true).

A couple of my favourite kiwis on the banks on the Avon

Ciders and cupcakes overlooking Lyttelton Harbour

As well as checking out Christchurch I also made a trip down to Akaroa for a night. This is a place I had always told my clients to check out, but had never actually been to myself (I wasn’t lying to them, enough people had told how much they enjoyed it for me to feel confident my clients would too!), but when the opportunity to check it out myself came up I jumped at it! And it was the cute little seaside town I had told people (phew!). While the town itself is a quiet seaside village, it’s the drive over to Akaroa that makes the trip really worthwhile, just remember two things - make sure your cars got a decent set of brakes and when in New Zealand sometimes the best view isn’t from the highest point.

View over Akaroa Harbour from the car park (it was a bit blowy)!

The same view after a half hour walk up the hill to the look out....

While on the Banks Peninsular I think we also managed to check out most of the bays around Akaroa harbour looking for a nice swimming spot. While the bays around the harbour don’t have great beaches for swimming, we managed to find a nice little bay for a swim. And while the water was, take your breath away, cold it made for a relaxing afternoon in the sun before heading back to Christchurch.

Tikao Bay

Six days flew by catching up with friends and a little bit of exploring, but two things stand out from my trip to New Zealand that will always draw me back to visit our neighbours across the Tasman.

Number one is the landscape. The colour of the water and how it contrasts with the landscape is amazing! My favourite landscapes involve water and mountains and in New Zealand you can get them both at once, maybe it was mainly because of where I was, but driving over the hills towards the coast, the landscapes were simply beautiful.

Number two is the people. They really are some of the friendliest in the world (even when they realise you’re an aussie!), I don’t know if it was just because we were out in the country, but everyone we met was up for a chat and interested in why we were there visiting.

Anyway I have probably rambled on enough about the great things of Christchurch, just go check it, and the rest of NZ, out for yourself (and please take me with you!).