A Travellerspoint blog

Condensed Christchurch

sunny 17 °C

The first week in Christchurch is spent car searching, couch surfing, exploring, and involves a lot of city walking. Foley Towers (the hostel we stayed at for the nights of Oct 1-4) is about a 10 minute walk from the City Centre, the library (where we use the internet), the bus station, and a variety of cool shops and restaurants. After a few minutes walking about the city, we realized that it is quite dangerous for a pedestrian coming from a country where you drive on the right side of the road to a country where you drive on the left. We had to learn to look right FIRST to cross the street instead of looking left. From the hostel to downtown we follow a path lined with huge trees along the Avon river and past many old stone buildings. Christchurch's has a lot of character with its neo-gothic architecture and even has a vintage tram still running through the city. Christchurch is known for its Cathedral Church, located in the heart of the city. Luckily a few years ago, this church went through some earthquake proofing and luckily survived the recent quake that measured 7.

Cantebury Provincial Council Buildings

Cantebury Provincial Council Buildings


CHCH Tram

CHCH Tram


CHCH Cathedral

CHCH Cathedral

One of the bonuses of Christchurch is their free shuttle, it's basically a city bus that does a small loop through and around the City Centre, hitting the groceries stores and other necessary places. We turned into regulars on the free shuttle tour. The entire city is under construction for a couple reason, earthquake repairs and preparing for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Getting around can be somewhat frustrating with closed roads and lane reductions. Many of the older buildings and churches and brick buildings had considerable earthquake damage. The clock on Moorehouse Street was damaged from the earthquake and no longer tells the time. It still reads 4:35 AM, the time the quake occurred.

Earthquake Damaged Church

Earthquake Damaged Church


Broken Clock Stuck at 4:35 - Earthquake Damage

Broken Clock Stuck at 4:35 - Earthquake Damage

Speaking of earthquakes, we experienced a 5 one evening after just falling asleep at 10:30 PM. Julie awoke first as the bed was jostling from side to side. Just as I awoke it stopped. Another aftershock. We'll get used to this, as aftershocks were happening every day but typically were so small you wouldn't notice them. This one was very close to the surface and so it felt substantial.

The weekend market in Riccarton, more like a flea market, is a great place to find some interesting goods. Julie is really honing her dickering skills. Two dollar jeans, woohoo (about $1.50 Canadian!). We were searching for warmer clothes as we realized we didn't bring enough when we arrived to Christchurch. Spring has just arrived here and we are acclimatized to Hawaii weather.

The first thing Julie notices about Christchurch is how all the toilets are dual flush, even in older buildings. It's really great to see water conservation, but I wanted to see swirling water and poops going in an opposite direction to the northern hemisphere. We also notice that a lot of doors (including on bathroom stalls) are sliding doors, and all outlets have switches on them to turn them on/off. Come on Canada, get with the times.

We also hit up Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. I thought the reserve was in a natural setting but it turned out to be more of a zoo. The highlight was seeing the rare Kiwi bird (Google it for really interesting facts about them) foraging in the leaves in their nocturnal exhibit. Most of New Zealand's native birds are flightless, since naturally there aren't any predators here to escape from. Since humans arrived to New Zealand, they brought all kind of animals (stouts, opossums, rats, house cats, dogs) that prey on the flightless birds and their eggs.

Kea

Kea


Wallabie

Wallabie


White Faced Heron

White Faced Heron


Takahe

Takahe

After four nights at the hostel, we spent a couple nights with Brid and Sanna, couch surfers. They had a great place to chill and chat and enjoy a wonderful dinner, and were a walk to downtown. Brid took us to Struthers Road, a really cool road, only accessible by foot or bicycle and full of pubs and restaurants. We headed into a bar for open mic night to take in some local talent and meet other couch surfers that gather there.

Old Door at Pub Area

Old Door at Pub Area

Brid also took us to the Port Hills to the 'Sign of the Kiwi'. The hikes here provide panoramic views stretching from the hills to the harbours, encompassing the Cantebury Plains which contain Christchurch. Here we got our first encounter with the popular New Zealand sheep. Immediately Julie wants to take a photo, but realizing that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand, she holds off for next time.

Rapaki Bay

Rapaki Bay


Nate and Brid Trekking Port Hills - Sugarloaf Trail

Nate and Brid Trekking Port Hills - Sugarloaf Trail

We also headed to the beachy suburb of Christchurch, Sumner, located about 12 km south-east of the city's centre. Here the houses were set into the sides of the cliffs, many had elevators which led from their driveway up to their house.

Sumner Beach and Cliff Houses

Sumner Beach and Cliff Houses

This first week was also spent car hunting at various backpacker dealerships. We scored a sweet 4x4 Mazda Cruiser Wagon and named it 'The Hobit'. After getting the oil changed and giving it a quick cleaning, we fold the seats down and load our gear into it. Now that we have a car we are freed from the clutches of city bus loops. We head out of the city on our way to Glen's house, our first wwoofing host on the Banks Peninsula.

Next blog entry will be about our first wwoofing (willing workers on organic farms) experience. From October 8th to 15th. See you soon.

Posted by ontarions 12:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Exploring A New World...

...NZ!!

sunny 17 °C

After a small layover in Auckland, our plane touches down in Christchurch at around 10 AM. We have arrived to our home for the next 7 or so months. It is a beautiful sunny spring morning and as we walk to the hostel we notice considerable damage to churches and brick buildings from the previous earth quake. Many buildings are fenced off and many structures are being supported to prevent further damage.

Flowering Tree in Spring

Flowering Tree in Spring


CHCH Cathedral and City Center

CHCH Cathedral and City Center

After dropping our bags off at Foley Towers, our hostel, we head out to pick up some groceries and check out a market downtown. Everyone we approach for help is extremely friendly and chatty. But Julie needs to work on trying to understand the NZ accents, as she mixed up “capital letters” for “captain lettuce” and “check-in” sounds like “chicken”. Makes for a good laugh trying to follow some Kiwi conversations. Our first day in NZ ends early, as we are exhausted from travelling and walking all over town. We can already tell Christchurch is a beautiful city, and can't wait to explore it further.

Nate and Kiwi

Nate and Kiwi


CHCH Botanical Gardens

CHCH Botanical Gardens

Posted by ontarions 01:34 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Old Town Honolulu

rain 26 °C

Our goal for the last day in Hawaii was to visit Old China Town and the Historic sites of downtown Honolulu. We start out along the busy beaches lined with resorts.

Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach

Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach

We slowly make our way west toward Honolulu from Waikiki through the streets. As we reach downtown Honolulu we are surrounded by the older architecture. Kawaiaha'o Church is an enormous church made out of coral blocks. It's considered the mother church of Hawaii. The tomb of King Lunalilo's is built in front of the church. He wanted to be buried among common people rather than in the Royal Mausoleum. He loved the people so much and felt he would be closer to them buried there.

Kawaiaha'o Church

Kawaiaha'o Church

Tomb of King William Charles Lunalilo

Tomb of King William Charles Lunalilo

King Kamehameha Statue

King Kamehameha Statue

As we are getting our fill of site seeing, the skies darken and rain begins fall. Everyone scrambles looking for shelter. We find cover at our bus stop heading back to our hotel. Somehow we didn't have 5 bucks for the bus, so Julie had to bum a dollar to pay our fare. The day disappears catching up on blogs and packing up for our 10 PM departure to New Zealand. We say good-bye to the northern hemisphere and quietly slip forward in time. As everyone sleeps the plane crosses the International Date Line and we lose one day. September 30th, 2010, does not exist for us.

Posted by ontarions 01:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Big Island to Oahu

...organic morning.

sunny 27 °C

Alicia runs out the door on her way to work, trying to beat the morning rush. Thanks Alicia for letting us crash for a couple nights! Our morning is particularly exciting for us, since we are going to tour Mountain Thunder Coffee plantation. The organic coffee is grown in the Kona region and has been on the show “Dirty Jobs”. They show us everything there is to know about the coffee process from picking the beans to packaging.

Kona Coffee Beans

Kona Coffee Beans

We eat a quick lunch of fish tacos and head to Kona Airport to fly over to Oahu. The plan is to spend one night in Honolulu to get a taste of the night life and check out the concrete beaches. Arriving safely in Honolulu, we take the shuttle to our hotel in Waikiki. Our corner room provides us windows on both the south and east and a view down the city street to the beach, and also of Diamond Head mountain.

View of Waikiki Beach From Hotel

View of Waikiki Beach From Hotel

We grab some things for making dinner and bottle of red wine. As we relax, the sound of traffic and people far below on the streets is something we haven't heard much of during our time in Hawaii. Looking back on all the unique people have met and our experiences, we've learned a lot while visiting Hawaii. Their carefree, laid-back spirit and their family values are pieces of Hawaii that we'd like to take away with us. We've learned that attitude is everything.

Posted by ontarions 13:30 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Captain Cook Kayak

sunny 28 °C

Good morning all. We roll down the coffee bean slopes of Kona towards Kealakekea Bay. On the way down we contemplate renting kayaks to access some great snorkeling and check out the Captain Cook Monument. As soon as we arrive at the water a friendly local is renting kayaks, so we rent one and hit the water heading across the bay towards the white monument. The steep cliff to our right is where the bones of important Hawaiian chiefs where hid. Someone was lowered by rope down the cliff face, to place the bones in a safe spot. Once finished, the person signalled to the people holding the rope, the rope would then be cut and they fell to their death keeping the burial location a secret. There is a long interesting story about Captain Cook, but we won't dive into that here (just Google it). We reach the monument and the snorkeling grounds that are rich with sea life. After a thoroughly exploring the bay's marine life and relaxing in the sun, we start the paddle back.

Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay

Kayaking to Captain Cook Monument

Kayaking to Captain Cook Monument

Yellow Tangs

Yellow Tangs

Next on the agenda is The City of Refuge (Pu'uhonoa o Honaunau), a ancient Hawaiian settlement. The story here is if a commoner broke a rule, such as, walking on the same trail as the upper class, they would be put to death. If the commoner could escape and reach the The City of Refuge before they were caught and put to death, they could gain forgiveness and return home. At the City of Refuge there was a “Great Wall” which was built in 1550 and is 10 ft high and 17 ft thick! No mortor was used and natural stones were used (they were not chiseled). I was amazed. The size of some of these stones were enormous. The picture below is of a reconstructed temple which housed the bones of 23 ali'i (chiefs).

Hale O Keawe @ City of Refuge

Hale O Keawe @ City of Refuge

Dry Stack Stone Walls @ City of Refuge

Dry Stack Stone Walls @ City of Refuge

Wooden Carving @ City of Refuge

Wooden Carving @ City of Refuge

We finish absorbing the culture and history of Hawaiians and head back to our couch surfer's home to pack up the bags for our flight to Honolulu the next day. We had a great stay but it's time, once again, to move along.

Posted by ontarions 14:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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