So after another fairly early start we left the Greymouth campsite
First stop was Luke Brunner. Had a pleasant walk alongside the river feeding the lake. Then stopped at the railway station cafe. The famous transalpine railway runs from Christchurch to Greymouth. We were doing the same route by car.
Next we climbed up over Arthur’s pass. A very steep road up and the car struggled a bit with 4 in the car and luggage. Couple of viewpoints with spectacular scenery. At one stop a friendly kia (bird) came and perched on the wing mirror.
Over Arthur’s pass we started the journey down again. Stuck behind 2 slow lorries for a while but eventually overtook them. Another stop at Castle Hill. Supposed to be some famous rocks to look at but didn’t bother. Finally out of the wholes and on to the Canterbury plains. Very flat with long straight roads. Staying for 2 nights at the Johns campsite (fomerly Groynes campsite) on edge of Christchurch. Can’t think why they changed the name.
Went over to Robyn’s brother Chris’s house for the evening. Had pizza. Their house was on reasonably solid ground but still had to have extensive repairs following the 2010-2011 earthquakes. They were saying that now have to specify cost of total repair of the house in insurance documents and insurance has gone up. The city plan we had shows the red zone areas that were most affected by the earthquake. This includes the city centre and suburbs near the river where the ground liquefied.
The next day we got up and headed into central Ch’ch (the local abbreviation). A few years on it is still mostly a scene of devestation. There are many empty lots where buildings once stood and other buildings that stood but were fenced off. This included some pretty large office blocks. Not sure whether these were damaged and needed repair, condemned but not demolished or safe but not in use due to the wider damage in the zone.
We walked through the centre (past the damaged Cathedral), walked along the river and then headed back to the centre. The centre had a mall called re:start – this consisted of shops with a difference. each shop had been made from 2 shipping containers with spaces cut out for doors and display windows. There is still a great deal to do and some people say the City may not be fixed up until 2020. Some people were living at the holiday park we were staying at since the earthquake, while others like Robyn’s friend had headed to other parts of NZ like Nelson and weren’t intending to come back.
We next headed out of the city and took a gondola ride up into the hills on the banks peninsula. This had good views towards the city and also looking down the other side. There is an almost perfect caldera inlet of the sea (slightly ruined by the modern port) showing the former volcanic activity in the area.
At the gondola there was a cart ride through the history of Canterbury which was a bit amusing. It got to the end with a section on famous people from canterbury and I was going. who? who?