As we flew into Christchurch yesterday, we could see that it could be cold as there was snow on the hills. That night was quite a shock after Australia and the temp was down to about 15 degrees. This did not stop us from strolling around the city a bit and we discovered the Cathedral Square. There are many buildings here still showing the effects of the earthquake (7.1 Richter scale) back in September of last year. Depending on who you speak to there have been between 2,500 to over 4,000 aftershocks since then and those regularly in the 3-4 scale of magnitude. The Lake in Hagley Park is half the size it was, as it sprung a leak and the water just ran away. One guy got a 3m extension to his garden overnight and many are still awaiting insurance claims to be settled. There is also a problem with building permissions as many plots of land have now been declared unsafe to build on, or rather re-build on. Whilst the insurance money covers rebuild costs, it does not include new plot costs, and from what we can see there is no rhyme nor reason why one house still stands and the next one on the street is condemned.
One old public school building is being used as an interesting Arts centre and the other still exists and you often see boys in short trousers and gowns in the town.
We spent the morning of 2nd Feb looking around the Botanical garden and again used the transport to ensure that we covered the entire garden. This time it was called “the caterpillar” which is a little more appropriate for a garden tour. The drivers were very well informed and gave a full and accurate commentary. We stopped off at the Rose garden to see the many varieties in full bloom, in the centre of which was a sun dial that declared we were 11,800 miles from London. We also spent some time in the conservatory and saw a few orchids and tropical plants such as bananas and palms. It has been incredible here and in Australia to see the huge size trees grow to. There are some fabulous examples in this garden from all over the world. Strolling back and forth along the river you also see some fabulous trees, bridges and lots of ducks not to mention the punts and gondolas.
Many years ago they wanted to get a fountain for the entrance area and the foundry at Colebrookdale (Ironbridge, Shropshire) was awarded the contract. Now that is some distance to ship a load of iron…… but worth it, as it looks magnificent and is beautifully painted.
On our way back to Pomeroy’s B&B we stopped off at “The Twisted Hop” a hostelry that came highly recommended by Steve Pomeroy. They were playing Dylan, had real ale brewed on the premises (by an Englishman) and had pork pies and Branston Pickle as a lunchtime snack……….. perfect!
We passed a bit of earthquake shoring up that had been turned into a work of art, which was very refreshing and showed a sense of humour against adversity. Also we spotted a car, which proved you can get any number plate you like ………. The mighty AYPHID. ….. A little bug of a car.
Tonight the pub “Pomeroy’s” (next door to the B&B) has a “Seismic Night” when the band will shake the building (ouch) and they have brewed a special 7.1% ale for the night. Perhaps only a half tonight, as in the morning we have a taxi booked for 7ish to take us to the “Trans Alpine Railway Station” for our 4 hour trip to Greymouth, over the backbone of the Southern Island.