WINTER 2015

A lotta drivin’s been done!

Its been a busy week, and we’ve driven a long way.

We stayed two days in Wellington – a city we really quite like.

Went for huge walks around the port, piers, marinas and waterways, and again went in the cable-car, and visited the Te Papa Museum.

The museum is such a huge place, over many different levels – and even if it wasn’t ever-changing, there is so much to see that you could never accomplish it in a full day.

But we spent an enjoyable couple of hours there, then walked back to our unit.

Cold, exhausted, but happy.

The ferry across the Strait between the North and South Islands had been cancelled a few times over the previous days, due to bad weather, really high winds, and rough seas – so we had been crossing our fingers that when our turn came, it would all smooth out, calm down, and be running safely.

Thankfully, although the day dawned overcast, the wind had dropped, and the seas calmed – everything was running on schedule, so we lined up along with a zillion other cars, and waited to drive onto the ferry.

It’s a three hour trip to the South Island, but it passes really quickly. And for those who aren’t very keen on boat travel, one never at any point loses sight of land 🙂

There are a number of eateries on board, a couple of cinemas, and a gift shops – all very reasonably priced, and we enjoyed a combination breakfast/snack, as well as a wander round. It’s good that you can stretch and wander whenever you like, and aren’t at any point confined to a particular seat.

Larry was thrilled to pieces when he spotted a pair of NZ gym boots in the gift shop, which we eventually have in and bought for him.

He’s a very bit big keen on them, and has refused to take them off, even when he goes to bed.

He’s a very chuffed-with-himself little fellow!!

We arrived in Picton just after lunchish time, and drove around having a look-see, before heading off to our accommodation at Waimaka.

Our room had a lovely view over the Queen Charlotte Sound waters, and every few hours we got to watch and listen to the inter-island ferry come in.

It sort of echoes around the Sound, a beautiful reassuring deep thrum, chug, chug…

Next stop was an overnighter at Kaikoura, which whilst it was mostly quiet due to the start of winter, and the public holiday – we could definitely see that in the high-season, it would very much have the same sort of vibe as Airlie in full swing.One of the truly beautiful and amazing things about Kaikoura though, are the seal colonies on the outskirts of the town.

There were honestly hundreds and hundreds of seals – including a squillion seal-pups – basking in the sun, napping, mooching about, and just generally being seals!!

The two that most caught our hearts, were one of the pups that had huge big dark-ringed possum-type eyes, and a pup who was feeding off Mumma.

Next stop in our travels was Christchurch.

We were deciding how we wanted to plan our time there – as it was a place that had had a big impact on us last time we had visited – so two things were definite on the list.

A visit to the ReStart container mall, and a trip back to New Brighton.

Last year we had loved the hope that ReStart evoked, and whilst quite a few of the businesses that were there last year have moved into newly built buildings, there are still many running their shops out of the containers.

It’s one of those awesome initiatives that grew out of an absolute necessity after the 2011 Quakes – that shows the ingenuity and hopeful strength of these Kiwi folk.

New Brighton was almost the opposite.

When we visited last year, the devastation still ‘felt’ so very very fresh…

The roads were still crumbling, there were hundreds upon hundreds of houses – entire bloody suburbs – of homes that were devastated, or had water and/or mud all through them, or were condemned, or were boarded and/or taped up.

It was absolutely heartbreaking and soul-destroying…

Seeing it on tele was one thing, but being there, being ‘inside’ it – was something you just can not begin to fathom, without experiencing it.

It’s hard to imagine how those effected could sustain any sort of hope – and quite apart from that, how do thousands and thousands of people find rehoming, and pick up the pieces, when every material thing they have in life, is suddenly decimated and just….GONE!?!

This time – there was more of a sense of hope – of recovery, happening.

The roads were much improved.

Many of the homes had been demolished, and in their places were acres and acres of lush tended ‘park-like’ spaces.

There is still a LOT of devastation to be seen – but you can see the efforts that have been made too, and the difference those efforts have made.

One sign we saw – pretty much said it all, about the aforementioned Kiwi strength:

Stay strong Nepal ❤️”

The Canterbury Kiwis sure do understand, without any doubt, what the Nepalese are struggling with…

So, we were leaving Christchurch the next day, and as happened last time we were here, Christchurch decided to turn it on – weather wise.

All through the night, the rain was coming down in sheets, and there were freezing blustery gales all night, that made the windows whistle.

Getting our stuff into the car in the morning took a bit of rugging up like the abominable snowman, planning, swearing and running – but it got done, and we were off in our way to Lake Tekapo.

And you’ll get to hear about that, the next time we get a spare few hours with some more reliable free wifi!

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