Christchurch, and Kaikoura
14.01.2011 19 °C
September 2010 three was an earthquake measuring 7.1 to 7.4 on the Richter scale that ‘hit’ Christchurch. Since this time there have been over 4000 aftershocks experienced in this area. For these reasons it was with a degree of hesitation that we headed up the east coast of the south island to the second largest city in New Zealand, Christchurch. We were staying in our tent at the Christchurch Top 10 for 4 nights. One day would be for doing necessary things such as laundry, grocery shopping etc., the others for exploring in the Christchurch area. For the kids, this was their best campground ever in NZ for there was an amazing playground and even a movie theatre in this caravan park!
While still over on the west coast of the south island we were able to travel along Arthur’s Pass and do some hiking in this mountainous area (remember, this is where Paul sprained his ankle) From Christchurch we were going to visit Arthur’s Pass again but this time hiking and sight seeing in the eastern half of the pass. While at the pass we had two destinations in mind: 1) The Cave Stream. As the name suggests this is a cave that has a deep stream flowing through it. With torches (flashlights) you can explore in these caves. 2) Castle Hill. No this is not a hill with a castle on it but rather a hill with lots of huge rocks on it! Unfortunately due to the incredible amounts or rain that this area has been experiencing, water in the cave was far too deep for safe cave exploration so, after walking down to the now raging river we decided to skip this adventure. Castle Hill however was a fantastic place to explore. When you first drive into the car park for Castle Hill the actual size of the limestone boulders strewn all over the hill is not really evident. It is not until you are walking around the rocks that you realize just how massive they are. We spent a good couple of hours climbing various rocks and admiring their form as well as the beautiful landscape around us.
Mountains in Arthurs Pass
Can You See Claire?
Can You See Ayden?
Under the Arch
Ayden, Claire and Paul at Castle Hill
Claire at Castle Hill
On January 11th we woke up to grey skies and drizzle, a perfect day to visit the Christchurch Museum. A feature of this museum that we all found interesting is a recreation of a typical street in downtown Christchurch as it would be seen many years ago. Luckily the drizzle stopped allowing us to walk at our leisure through the downtown section of Christchurch. We were all happy to see that the earthquake and after shocks had not produced the degree of damage that we were expecting to see. Yes there were barricades around buildings which were no longer safe, scaffolding supporting church towers, walls, windows, and yes there were some buildings being demolished, but overall we were positively surprised at how well the city faired the quake. When chatting to locals we did find out the true affects of living in a place that was experiencing so many aftershocks. Most people comment on how these aftershocks affect their children. The initial quake happened at night scaring many children who were in bed at the time. Experiencing so many aftershocks further upsets children. Many parents commented that they now have all their kids sleeping in their bedrooms because the kids are scared. Information like this made us realize some of the hidden consequences experienced by those copying with life after an earthquake. While in Christchurch we did feel one aftershock. Somewhat un-nerving but thankfully it was not a big one!
Rubble in the Steets of Christchurch
As we strolled around in the city centre of Christchurch we could not help but to compare it to other cites on the south Island. The Allore conclusion is that Dunedin and then Nelson are our favourite large cities on the south island.
Leaving Christchurch we were faced, once again with grey skies and a weather forecast of heavy rain. For this reason when we hit Kaikoura, our next stopping spot, we decided to find shelter with solid walls and roof. We were very lucky that the Top 10 in Kaikoura had units available for us. (Had to split our time in two different units) We were so very glad that we decided to stay in a unit. Being a coastal town the wind was driving the rain at a rather nasty angle. It would have been plain miserable to be tenting in rain like this!
First full day in Kaikoura we did a little souvenir shopping and sold some of our camping equipment. The tent is gone and so are our two electrical cords. The $180 RDC cable sold for considerably less, but what can you do? It did feel rather sad to watch a stranger buy our tent and then trot off with it. Our orange igloo has been our home away from home for the last 7 months, and it was a great tent. Part of the sadness is that this act of selling the tent made it feel somewhat more final that our trip is indeed coming to an end. We have all thoroughly enjoyed our time in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. But we digress...back to Kaikoura.
We found out that Kaikoura is the crayfish capital of New Zealand so after a day of hiking along a seal colony we decided to treat ourselves to a dinner out that included crayfish.
Coast Near Kaidoura; Lonely Tree Holding Up the Fyfe; Step Over Fence; Seal Colony
We asked a few locals were they would recommend we go to sample some of this local delicacy and they all suggested Seafood BBQ, a beachside equivalent of a chip truck that even The Lonely Planet travel guide recommends. We ordered our food...Paul a crayfish fritter, Gwen a Paua fritter (Paua is a type of shell fish that is very popular in NZ), and Ayden and Claire each had grilled fish. Just in case you did not know (we didn’t) a fritter here in NZ is minced fish combined with egg and onion and then cooked on a grill. Apparently this is “THE” way to eat fish. After placing our order we found our outdoor table and waited with anticipation. Well what I can say. Maybe the fact that we ended up going out for dinner twice in one night will answer that question. To start of gently, at Seafood BBQ the portions were tiny. So even if the food was the most delicious food you have ever tasted, you would still be walking away hungry. As far as taste is concerned, the grilled fish was okay, the crayfish palatable, the paua disgusting. After our 5 minutes dinner, we decided to jump back in our kiwi car and head to a fish and chip shop, Coopers Catch in downtown Kaikoura for the rest of our dinner. What great fish and chips! We would definitely recommend Coopers.
Seafood BBQ; Seaside BBQ Dining Room; Coopers Catch
Keeping on the food train of thought, while in Kaikoura we also came across some very delicious fudge! Our friend Jenn gave us a tip about this fudge shop in Kaikoura claiming it was the best fudge, besides her husband’s fudge, that she had tasted. So we had to try it out. We bought a 5-pack of Raspberry-chocolate, milk chocolate, dark-dark chocolate, irish cream and cowboy. Cowboy fudge is Irish Cream with rum added. They were all quite good. They did not last long for they were a very tasty treat to enjoy after a 1 and a half walk along farmers fields and rocky coasts to visit a local seal colony.
Will try to post once more before we leave, but don't hold your breath!!!! See you all soon!.