An overcast, cool day and gusty winds threatened to end our run of very good luck with the weather over the past three weeks. Rugged up for the conditions we walked and bussed into Christchurch, starting with a visit to the Botanic Gardens – and a coffee, of course. Some of the old cypress and pine trees were huge and majestic, but all introduced from North America. The rose garden had T fantasizing about reworking her rose garden, maybe it’s not too late, so watch this space. The first rose she stopped at was a ‘Meg’, one that we have in our front garden, and named, so D claims, after his mother.
A short walk along and across the Avon River brought back memories of a stroll along the riverbanks almost a decade ago. As we approached Cathedral Square, the changes to the building-scape were obvious: new construction and lots still underway. Needless to say, the sight of the partially destroyed cathedral was poignant, but to counter that there was a strong sense of revival and rebuilding. At the fenced off cathedral is a ‘whare’, symbolizing life/resurrection/hope. It is still in spring flowering, so provides a very positive foil to the ruin behind.
The square was full of activity, including a busker with a fabulous voice, and a National Geographic photo competition that had outstanding nature and wildlife subjects.
We walked for many kilometres, seeing old sights but not recognizing some of the new. The city centre is a mass of re-starting: vacant blocks, fencing with images of new beginnings/re-construction/roadworks; retail outlets draw visitors, there are market &street food outlets operating from caravans and shipping containers. Folk still paddle kayaks on the Avon and the Christchrch tram still runs its circuit. The randomness of the earthquake destruction is intriguing: pockets of survivors amongst the fallen.
The sun appeared off and on, Sunday city visitors moved about with a leisurely air. At the Gate of Remembrance there were white crosses in a green patch; we presumed that they referred to the fallen from WW1 but later reflection had us wondering whether they might relate to those who died in 2011.
The bus service delivered us back to the van park where the task of repacking, cleaning out, sorting and preparing to handover the vehicle begins. D tried to handover surplus toilet rolls to two campervan couples opposite: they declined, saying they had lots of their own to get rid of, most of which had been passed on as they started their trip. Seems there’s a glut of this essential item. The North Island awaits us.