NZ Land Logs 22, Year 2: South Island–Christchurch
Date: Monday, March 12, 2007
Weather Today: Sunny and Warm
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

Yesterday was a down day; today was the opposite. Today we were up early and Mark fixed a big breakfast for all of us in the backpacker kitchen. Then Alan and Helaine were off to Akaroa where Helaine was going swimming with the Hector’s dolphins–endemic to New Zealand and the world’s smallest and rarest. Mark and I went into the .Com Internet Cafe to send yesterday’s log and upload some pictures, and then we took the public bus into Christchurch.

Helaine’s swim with the dolphins was moderately successful. She saw lots of dolphins from the boat, but when the group got into the water the dolphins were not anxious to play. She did get to swim with one group and was very excited about the trip. Alan stayed on the dock and met the owner of a J40. Alan and Helaine’s sailboat, Atlantis, is a J40, so Alan was excited to meet the owner of Soulmate, J40 #47, registered in Melbourne, Australia. Currently this boat is doing a figure-8 circumnavigation of the North and South islands by cutting between the two islands through Cook’s Strait. This boat will be traveling to Vanuatu for the winter (your summer), so we might meet them there.

Our trip to Christchurch was delightful. We walked from the bus station in city centre to Cathedral Square and visited Christchurch Cathedral. In the same square with the cathedral is the 18 metre-high Metal Chalice, a sculpture done by Neil Dawson to welcome the new millenium. Christchurch Cathedral was built in the early 1880’s and has a wood-ribbed ceiling, beautiful stained-glass windows, and some Maori Tukutuki panels. After leaving the cathedral, we followed the tracks of the Tramway to New Regent Street where we saw the pastel-colored Spanish mission-style apartments above the stores on the street. The Tramway comes down this narrow street lined with outdoor cafe tables. We enjoyed the second floor apartments that had stuffed animals climbing down ladders from the windows–cute. It was then on to Victoria Square, a lovely inner-city park with beautiful flowers, even a flower clock, and the Avon River running along side. There were inflatables shaped like exotic fish and boats all along the river’s edge. There was even one shaped like a container ship and labeled Costco. They were not there later in the day, so we have no idea what they were for–maybe a wedding. From Victoria Park we walked to the Canterbury Provincial Council, built in the Victorian Gothic style. We walked inside and found a large governing chamber and many small classroom-type rooms with large tables in the center. It reminded us of St. Paul’s School back in Concord, New Hampshire, where our children attended secondary school. Just down from the Provencial Council buildings we found “Our City O-Tautahi.” This Queen Anne building is the home of the Christchurch first City Council where major issues are presented. This building also houses many local exhibitions. We made a turn here and headed down Gloucester Street where we saw Christ’s College, the Centre of Contemporary Art, and The Arts Centre. All of these buildings are Victorian-style stone buildings, and The Arts Centre now houses everything from up-scale shops where you can buy New Zealand-made goods or where you can go to the cinema or eat lunch and dinner. If you have enough money, you can also live there. It is quite a showcase. Just a few more steps down the street we found the Canterbury Museum that displays New Zealand life, old and new, and the Churchchrist Botanic Gardens next door. We strolled through the beautiful gardens along the Avon and wound around until we reached the street once again and found a little cafe at Punting in the Park. Punts are flat-bottomed boats that require a pilot who pushes the boat along with a long pole in shallow water to “punt” you along at a leisurely pace. We ate lunch in the cafe, but then headed back to another spot for punting. I wanted to float along in the section of the river with willow trees, so that we did. What an enjoyable ride.

It was time to get ourselves to the bus station to head back to Sumner, so we hiked across town and caught the next bus. Alan and Helaine got back shortly after we did and it is now time to fix dinner and get ready for another day. While fixing dinner a woman named Christy from Minnesota shared pictures of her recent experiences in Antarctica. She was at McMurdo Station working in communications and supplies. It was absolutely fascinating to watch her slide show. This is one of the neat things about staying in a backpacker. You do get to meet some very interesting people.

Tomorrow we go to Kaikoura and the following day we will take the ferry back to the North Island. We will have spent fifteen glorious days on the South Island and take many memories north with us.

070312 Web Pics–Sumner and Christchurch