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  • Writer's pictureClaire

18/03/24 Hanmer Springs to Temuka

A sunshiney day greeted us when we opened the curtains in Ismene. We packed up and got going heading out via the fuel station. Oh my word, they have kicked the arse right out of the fact there no fuel for miles around and they have cornered the market. Thieving buggers!  Our route took us through Rotherham (not a grooming gang in site) and via some lovely roads. Well, that was Si’s view of them, and since he is the one doing the driving, we should quite possibly take his word on that. 

Culverden was a really nice spot with incredible turquoise rivers, jet boats flying up and down them, as they meandered through the hills. We didn’t stop long as we were on a mission today, a bit later start than usual meant we had time to make up.  

From Culverden we continued to Waipara and over the Weka Pass, before coming into the outskirts of Christchurch. There are a lot of British names in use and in Belfast we were treated to a orb sculpture with tiny wind turbines all over it, and in New Brighton, there was obviously a beach… and a headless sculpture of a naked female. Bob was in his element snuggled in there! Dirty Bob… Not being beach weather as it had begun to rain and it was blowing hooley, it’s fair to say we didn’t hang about at new Brighton. Just like home, you can get four seasons in a day which is a bit annoying!  From New Brighton, and the obligatory pics we headed into Christchurch City Centre 

Christchurch is traditionally the most English of NZ cities, and its heritage heart was basically decimated in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes that left 186 people dead. In the city centre  over 80% of buildings needed to be demolished after the quake. The new buildings are modern, but they are intermingled with restored older buildings. Street  art can be seen in most streets, and some of it is amazing.  The car park we parked in was wholly painted to make it look ancient, they did a great job of it too.  Recommended was the Christchurch market, not unlike the Newport Market, but it seemed a bit posher. So much food on offer and everything you could imagine to tickle your tastebuds. We opted for some fish, and although it was nice, wasn’t as good as we anticipated. With lunch eaten, we went in hunt of the shipping container shopping mall, only to discover it has been dismantled. After the Earthquakes, people still needed to shop for the basics, life goes on. However they were in a bit of a pickle, because everything had been destroyed. Some smart thinking individual came up with the idea of shipping containers and within days the community had shops open and people could get what they needed. It’s a very peaceful place, the tree lined walkways, just starting to show off their autumn colours, little river bridges go over the river Avon. And a hop on hop off tram does city tours.  

The city now has a Quake museum which we went to visit. We had to rush the tour a bit because we were mindful of our car parking ticket expiring. It was really really interesting and they’ve put a lot of effort into it. Even to the point of having interactive stations to show you what happens when an earth quake happens.  Lots of bits and pieces that were retrieved from the city were on display including the water pipes and an explanation of what happened to them during the quake. A lot of the items are huge, and if they had fallen on someone they would have had no chance of survival. A huge metal  sculpture collapsed when the cliff it was upon came down, bending it like it was paper. There were photos of houses sunk into the earth due to the changes underground and others with massive fissures through the gardens that continued through the homes. It was very interesting, and it’s just a shame we rushed it and didn’t get to watch the videos of people with stories to tell. 

The first people to live in what is now Christchurch were moa (bird) hunters, who arrived around 1250. When British settlers arrived in 1850 it was an orderly Church of England project; the passengers on the ‘First Four Ships’ were dubbed ‘the Canterbury Pilgrims’ by the British press. Christchurch was meant to be a model of class-structured England in the South Pacific, not just another scruffy colonial outpost. Churches were built rather than pubs, the fertile farming land was deliberately placed in the hands of the gentry, and wool made the elite of Christchurch wealthy. In 1856 Christchurch officially became NZ’s first city, and a very English one at that. Town planning and architecture assumed a close affinity with the ‘mother country’ and English-style gardens were planted, earning it the nickname, ‘the Garden City’, it is also a city that has known great tragedy in recent years. Following earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, shootings at two mosques in the city in March 2019 killed 51 people attending Friday prayers. 

Leaving Christchurch behind, we headed towards Temuka where we were staying the night. It’s a quaint little town, and is a second hand shop lovers dream, they’re everywhere! A quirky looking pub eating establishment called the Jolly Potter caught our attention as we rumbled down the street. Worth a visit we thought. However, we had to get to the campsite to check in. The  owner/ manager was extremely helpful and happy to impart his local knowledge to us. We asked him for any recommendations he might had and were well chuffed with what he suggested.  We’ve changed the plans a bit in the back of his recommendations. With copious notes made, a map picked up as the one we had with Ismene is looking a little worse for wear, we drove to our spot. Quite close to the amenities, and overlooking the rugby pitch. The sunset was really nice, and because it had rained i was hanging out of Ismene to take pics. Grass was too wet and I may have soaked my thick fluffy bed socks and that wouldn’t have been a barrel of laughs as the temperature dropped overnight. Brrr.  

Another great day in the South Island. 

Much love

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