Day 27 - Christchurch
19.03.2013 - 19.03.2013 14 °C
Bit of a sleep in and slower start to a cooler and drizzly day. After breakfast we caught a bus into the city - about 25 minutes. Then walked rapidly to catch a one hour red bus tour to orientate ourselves and find out more about Christchurch.
Sat on the open air top deck and saw all of the city centre. Incredibly frightening to see the aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 quakes. As well as the dominance of the red no-go zone in the middle of the city there are empty blocks all through the other areas where buildings had either fallen over or been demolished. All the major churches are considerably damaged but decisions about their future is still not decided so they remain reminders of the past. Eerily the Casino was undamaged and was the first building open after the first contraction of the red zone. The site of the CTV building where most of the fatalities occurred is just a bare patch of ground with security fence covered in floral wreaths. The AMI stadium at Lancaster Park falsely appears relatively unscathed except for the weeds that grow on the field where liquefaction has turned it into a gravel pit and it is apparent that the base of the stands have sunk into the ground unevenly. One stand over the entrance to the ground was demolished.
After a coffee to warm up we walked to the Newstart container mall in the city centre. A very bright attractive area built predominantly out of containers where banks and shops have attempted to normalize commerce but it was obvious that most of the people were tourists and it wasn't crowded. Plans for the city centre are focussing on recreational areas, gardens and a large convention and entertainment centre. In ten years Christchurch may well emerge as a modern uncluttered city having been able to rid itself of the assortment of derelict and badly designed buildings that plague most other cities inner areas.
We made a financial contribution to the economy before returning to the hotel. Easily the coldest, wettest day of the entire trip so a warm soup for lunch and time to reorganise the bags was the order of the afternoon.
We will have time to kill at the airport tomorrow with a chance to reflect on our adventures over the last three weeks.
Initial thoughts - generally 9/10. Simply awesome geography; locals friendly and helpful; roads, hotels, services, food generally 4 -5 star.
Would we recommend travelling with Scenic Tours in NZ? Definitely. Small group travel worked well - our companions were friendly and pretty easy to live with; tour guide and coach captains knowledgeable, helpful/tolerant and amusing; majority of choices were good value for money.
Will we come back to NZ? Who knows - there are many places here we would enjoy spending more time in but it is a big world out there and other places that we are yet to experience.