New Zealand’s South Island: Christchurch March 17 – 22 2016

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On the plane from Queenstown to Christchurch was the most interesting air sickness bag we’ve ever seen. It was interesting enough to share.

IMG_2214At the Christchurch airport we picked up a rental car and with Hank as driver, sitting on the right side of the car, we  boldly made our way to the seaside town of Sumner.

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This time our Air B&B was perched on top of a cliff with very winding roads. The sea views were amazing from some areas along the road. At our unit  the advertised sea views were visible only when standing on the bench in the yard. The apt though was well set up with a washer & dryer and a pretty private garden. We drove back down the winding road to get groceries and past a pair of peacocks walking across  the road. We later found out that the birds belonged to a neighbor.

Taylors mistake

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peacocks

 We drove to the supermarket for dinner and then back to the apt before dark settled in on the winding road.
We slept until late the next morning, did laundry, relaxed  and worked some on blog updating. We looked ahead at visiting Akaroa, a seaside village about 1 1/2 hrs away. Its the only French colonized village remaining in New Zealand. We booked a tour to sail on a gaff rigged wooden ketch to see Akaroa Wildlife; seals, dolphins, penguins and  other sea birds.  In the afternoon , we explored Sumner village & found a cave formation in volcanic rock on the beach.
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We watched a group of teenagers at a surfing school and walked to find an early dinner at Clink which besides having good food, had an interesting history.
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Across the street from the  restaurant we saw shipping containers stacked against the mountains. We found out that this was  a result of the 2011 earthquake that affected Christchurch and its surrounding areas. We would see a lot of work being done for earthquake restoration over the coming days.
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We were up early in time to see a beautiful sunrise and then to set off for Akaroa. The GPS took us through a winding mountain  route past sheep farms & many curvy turns. We saw a rainbow on the drive and beautiful seaside views. the views and rainbow was gift we accepted for the harrowing mountainous drive.
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 It  was the day of a 100 km cycle competition from Christchurch to Akaroa.  We passed some of the cyclists on our way.
We got to the wharf in time to board the ship for our 3 hour sail.
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We sailed past a Maori village, Anuku, that was built almost 200 years ago. We also sailed past  a swimming blue penguin (like the ones we saw in Melbourne, AU ),  shags diving for fish and pods of Dolphins and a fur seal colony.
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Hector’s dolphins
shag at akaroa
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After the sail we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the serenade of a jazz saxophone player by the dock.
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We drove home on a less frightening route than the curvy mountain roads.  We passed a small sheep farm and stopped to take a photo. The farmer came over & invited us to climb his fence to visit the sheep. Shelley accepted the invite & had a great up close & personal visit with his sheep .
IMG_2340 We stopped at a market for dinner & cooked back at the apartment.  Another day driving in New Zealand that ended safely!
We awoke to another beautiful sunrise and  drove to  Christchurch to see the sights.
We took a guided tour through the Botanical Gardens ( 22 acres) in  what is called a Caterpillar, cause it creeps along the garden, and then walked some of it on our own.
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IMG_2363This is a topiary of a moa which thrived in New Zealand until 800 years ago when the huge flightless bird  was hunted to extinction  by the Maori people. It’s nearest cousins are the Australian cassowary and emu. It’s displayed by a black tree fern which is prevalent in New Zealand.
 We walked down the street from the gardens to our next stop; punting on the Avon. We boarded a small punt boat that was pushed by a pole down the Avon River, a spring fed River.  It was a relaxing boat tour
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IMG_2378A photo of another boat that passed us.
IMG_2402We bought a day tram pass to ride the Christchurch  tram around the city on tracks. The trams were built in 1903, 1910, 1925& 1926.  We saw many buildings that were under construction since the 2011 earthquake.  70% was being rebuilt.
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IMG_2415This is a shopping mall rebuilt from shipping containers.
 
We stopped by a grocery store for dinner food & the next day’s lunch for our train journey across the southern alps.  We watched the movie Cliffy, about an Australian potato farmer who ran in the 1983 Sydney to Melbourne marathon. We heard about him when we traveling through his town when we were on a tour from  Melbourne. The next morning were up early to catch the train  and set off for Greymouth, on the west coast, through the Southern Alps.
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 The ride was the purpose for the trip. We rode through a 5 km tunnel and passed  beautiful mountains, gorges and rivers .
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Greymouth is a modest little town that originally developed following the discovery of gold in the 1860s. They were also a coal mining town. We were seated with a New Zealand couple. Barbara worked for the railroad, and Tim is a third generation farmer with 1500 sheep and about 50 cows. He and his 80 year old Dad run the farm together. We enjoyed spending time talking to New Zealand natives.  We drove back to Sumner for dinner in town before heading back up the twisty mountain  road  back to the apartment. We woke up to see the sunrise before packing our suitcases to travel to Sydney later in the evening. We drove down the winding roads for the last time & headed off to Christchurch. We went to  the newly opened ( since the 2011 earthquake) art museum,an art installation named 185 chairs  created in remembrance of those who died in the 2011 earthquake and the cardboard cathedral.
IMG_2480The outside of the newly opened Christchurch Art Museum
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The Cardboard Cathedral
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Then we were onto the airport , returned the car (yay!) and were heading to Sydney, Australia.