Monday, 16 December 2013

Day 44 Dog’s Stream

Today was another lovely relaxing day, despite the fact I got no sleep thanks to snoring, as the weather was absolutely gorgeous! I am worried how I’m going to survive when I get back to England for Christmas though, yesterday was what I considered a cooler day meaning I had tights and a cardigan on, yet the average temperature was 25degrees... while today was lovely at 30degrees.. I think I’m going to freeze!

It's hard to take a photo that shows how clear the water is, as the cleaner the water the shallower everything seems to look! It was past my knees though
If your wondering why it looks like this photo was taken from the middle of the stream that'd because that's where I stood (the path randomly cut across the stream!
Taking advantage of the weather I headed over to the other side of town to the pine forests and explored the lovely little stream than runs along side the town. It was so peaceful and beautiful I ended up wondering aimlessly through the forest for hours! I’m not entirely sure why it’s called Dog’s stream as it doesn’t sound particularly nice... anyway I stumbled upon a surprising little park in the middle of the forest, and with no one else around I lay down and just enjoyed the complete peace and quite until it was time to head back!

The momma bird who's obviously sat on some eggs at the moment 
Today is my last day in Hanmer and it’s gone by way too fast! It was great to just relax and do very little for a few days as I think travelling everyday is catching up to me a little bit! I finished off the day sipping a drink and reading by book on the table outside while the sun set and the little bird who’s made a nest in the hostel twittered away! 

Day 43 Conical Hill

 After a lovely lie in I woke up to find Mrs Jackson, a lovely lady who lives just across the street from the hostel had baked scones with homemade jam and whipped cream for everyone at the hostel! So after a lovely breakfast of scones I set off on my walk up to conical hill.
(I found out later she made them once she heard an english person was staying at the hostel!)
The walk was, as the name suggests, all up hill, which was rubbish, but the view was stunning once you reached the top. Surrounded by mountain peaks the valley spread out from the hill, filled with farm land and forest.

I’d only planned to walk to the top, spend a little time dawdling and then head back down but it was so beautiful, and tranquil – which is surprising considering the amount of people I saw on the walk up, I took the book I’d gotten from the book exchange at the hostel and promptly spent a good portion of the day reading in picturesque settings.
When I got back to the hostel later I was surprised to find Cara and Axel checking in! Apparently they’re just spending one night at Hanmer Backpackers and then another at the Japanese bathhouse instead of the original two nights at the Bathhouse. After a quick catch up we made dinner, explored the town a little bit and collapsed into bed!

Day 42 – Breakfast Bubbles

Last night was fun. First off since Axel left the two guys who I shared a room started talking to me, which is all good and lovely, except they’re both completely crazy. Seriously. Utterly crazy. But you know, I’m English, I’m used to crazy, no big deal. Well that was before I tried to sleep

As far as snoring goes, it doesn’t bother me too much. Honestly after a month and a half of sleeping in hostels where there is always, always, someone snoring I’m not sure how I’m going to sleep when no one is snoring. But last night was just ridiculous.. I don’t know how that guy was breathing but it wasn’t right. And as if the crazy guy’s snoring wasn’t enough, crazy guy number 2 talks in his sleep. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

And since I had some time to kill before catching my bus to Hanmer I read a little in the hostel lounge where I promptly got volunteered to help pick up, move and then clean a sofa… not quite sure what made the lady think I was better suited to that than the big bloke stood behind her whose job it was to clean… needless to say I didn’t pick up, move, or clean the couch. 

Getting to the bus stop was a bit of a pain as it was the other side of Christchurch so I had to lug my little suitcase other lots of broken roads... all in all the walk wasn’t too bad as the sun was shining so it was a lovely day!

The shuttle from Christchurch to Hanmer is a private company that only seems to just break even most of the time, and today there was just me and the driver in the shuttle (apparently they need to average 6 to make a profit). Anyway I had a lovely chat to the driver, who owns the company, for two hours and it turns out he used to own the hostel I’m staying at in Hanmer and the owner of it now works for him as a driver.. basically everyone knows everyone in Hanmer is the jist of it.
Considering I haven’t done a great deal I’m so tired, so once I got to Hanmer I just walked around the ‘town centre’, browsed in a few of the little shops and then decided to treat myself at Powerhouse CafĂ©. 
And yes, it was probably an unacceptable time to be drinking in the early afternoon but I figured why not, it was called 'Breakfast Bubbles' after all... although since I’ve not really drank the past month it went straight to my head and I had to try and stumble my way back to the hostel!

The owners are lovely, and they have free goodies most days, today it was cinnamon cookies Tristan, the owner, baked! 

Day 41 Christchurch

This time it wasn’t some sheep, or crazy people getting up at five, nor my alarm that woke me, this time the blame falls squarely on Axel. He’s heading off to Kaikoura meaning he has to check before 10 and for some silly reason that meant I had to be woken up early. After groggily saying goodbye I headed into the centre of Christchurch.

Everyone has told me plenty of times the Christchurch was severely damaged by the earthquakes that shook it a few years ago, and just as many have told me it remains a shell of itself. I still wasn’t prepared for the immense amount of damage that remains. The CBD is none existent. Half the roads remain closed. Empty sites are common and boarded up buildings even more so.

 one of the lovely paintings that decorate the crumbling buildings 

Of course areas are beginning to redevelop themselves but I can’t get over how slowly the process is moving. A lot of blame is being placed on the insurance companies who are taking their time going through cases and taking even longer to get surveyors out to the damaged buildings. But the fact I saw a lot of builders stood around doing very little while they were meant to be working probably isn’t helping matters… regardless of why, there wasn’t a single road that hasn’t been damaged in the city centre, with every corner baring scars of the earthquakes.

I stopped by the re:Start shopping mall. This series of shops made from shipping crates is being branded as the kiwi spirit making-do and improving Christchurch while being creative. I certainly think that’s true to an extent but I found it interesting how much money had been spent in this tiny corner of the city when 50 meters down the road the street was lined with collapsing buildings… What I really liked was the various paintings that dot the city sporadically, they’re inexpensive but add a certain beauty and interest to areas.

My main stop of the day was the Botanical Gardens, as re:Start is actually very small, which remains predominantly unspoiled by the earthquake and was truly beautiful.

 The biggest tree in the garden - it was ridiculously huge!

 The beautiful rose gardens 

 My favourite folklore rose


 The peacock fountain 
 The rock garden and the heather garden
My favorite stop was actually the rose gardens, where I scored a bench and sat reading, surrounded by roses, in the warm sun!
 The sealed art museum
 The remembrance bridge
A lovely gallery I stumbled across
To finish off I headed to the Cathedral, or as everyone here seems to phrase it ‘what’s left of the Cathedral’.

Christchurch was interesting. I’ve never been somewhere where there’s so much damage and destruction. And after walking though the city to re:Start I was feeling pretty cynical, as the tiny shopping centre has been majorly overhyped into represent something it doesn’t. Carrying on walking around the city made me hope though as the city was certainly attempting to rejuvenate itself. I can’t help but agree with everyone who blames the slow progress of terrible mismanagement though.