Hot Christchurch on the rebound

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
Trip End Apr 24, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, January 31, 2013

By the way the censors have already informed me that I can't refer to sheep and Wellington boots in the same sentence!

Whoops broken that one already but we did play who can spot the first sheep. Wally lost.
First impressions of New Zealand from the air were pretty promising as we flew West to East over the South Island with it's snow capped mountains giving way to the flat arable plains around Christchurch.

It brings home the scale of things in Europe when the airport at New Zealand's second largest city is smaller than Montpelier that we use regularly.

We hopped on a shuttle bus to the hotel settled into our room and took a stroll through the beautiful Hagley Park to the CBD.This is where things get a little serious rather than tongue in cheek.

We all know there was an earthquake in Christchurch a couple of years ago but to say we were speechless at what we were seeing is something of an understatement.

180 people died in the earthquake and most of them in one building that in itself is a miracle that it wasn't many many more.It is as if the devil of a property developer had decided the easiest way to redevelop Christchurch CBD was to demolish it in one go and ask questions later.

Talking to a local every piece of waste land we were seeing once had a building on it. There are numerous plots around. Now they are temporary parking lots and the rates have come down as you don't have a problem parking here!

The centre is known as the red zone and is still cordoned off while the dodgy property developer generates his plans for the future.

We are surprised they haven't hired the area out for a movie set. For instance can you imagine a theatre cut in half with the stage and stalls missing but the circle is still standing, it was quite spooky.

Shops and businesses that were abandoned and left as they were yet to be demolished.One thing that did make us chuckle though, was that the income tax office took a hit but one of the largest buildings still standing is the cop shop.

Our hotel was damaged and they have just started on Phase 3 of the repairs. The city sewage system is being replaced which in itself is a huge task.Demolition contractors and temporary fence suppliers have had a field day.

It makes you wonder if we should come out of retirement and join in as when they start the rebuilding there will be £10 billion spent in the centre alone and that's before they start dealing with the 10000 houses that need replacing.

Shell shocked we found respite in the Pegasus Arms pub who served what can best be described as gastro pub food. Huge mussels for starter, salmon on focaccia, fish and chips (you can guess who had what).

With the Premier league on the TV. Washed down with Jans new favourite hot weather beverage passion fruit cider. A brisk walk home in the slightly chilly wind will have burned off a few calories.

We borrowed a couple of bikes today and headed off for an unplanned tour of the city heading out towards the coast. First stop breakfast and homemade muesli in a cafe round the corner from the hotel. We will be going back there again.

Wally then had a brainwave and decided we would pay a visit to the bike hire company. Only he didn't know the name of the company or the address just a rough idea where it might be having looked at google earth before we left the UK.

Needless to say the fine tuned pigeon homing skills got us straight there and an early acquaintance with our GS. Back tomorrow to pick it up half a day early.

Off again to the coast and the temperature was into the thirties when we pedalled into South New Brighton. Its a bit of a chavy area where Wally had the worst ice cream he can remember. Although with a hanky on his head under his cycle helmet Wally probably looked like one of the locals!

Pedalling back to the city through the suburbs with many damaged houses and roads just as Wally remarked that judging by the state of some of the houses the earthquake might have done a few people a favour - bang Jan's chain snapped.

Some sort of Karma perhaps! We were about 5 miles short of our destination there was only one thing for it and that was to scoot it along with Wally pedalling alongside and towing Jan.

Surprisingly we made it back in one piece and a well deserved beer.

Dinner in the Raging Bull $8 for a pint or $9 for a litre jug!

Accompanied by a Chop Chop salad and Steak. Oh and Wally still hasn't had his lamb!
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