Christchurch


Nov 1st- 4th

We were on the road again, heading north to our final destination on our New Zealand itinerary, Christchurch which was just under a 3 hour drive.

The Canterbury region as with everywhere else in New Zealand was just crammed full of gorgeous scenery, as the saying goes 'It's about the journey, not the destination'...

I had heard about a hostel which is located inside an old prison, so we headed there and booked in for the 3 nights that we had left. The Jail House was for me a great concept and such a cool idea, it still looked like a prison and the dorms were behind big heavy doors with guards' peep holes still there. It was a massive building, with a cinema room, big kitchen (which we never used) and lots of lounging areas. Shannon wasn't keen on the place as he felt spooked by it all, he couldn't sleep at night and when he did, he woke telling me he had dreams of the police coming for him or running from the police, leading him to jail!

I would highly, highly recommend staying here, it was just so different and interesting, especially to think criminals once were housed here and yet we have paid to stay in their former cells. You can read more about our experience here...

If you look at the New Zealand map and zone into the Christchurch area, South East is a bumpy, circular bit of land, here lies Akaroa, a town on the Banks Peninsula, around 1 and half hours drive through yet more gorgeous scenery, with the roads winding around the hills, it was a stunning drive and gorgeous town, with 19th century British and French colonial history, it has a museum and a lovey water front, where we went to eat our 'chups'.

We visited 'Willowbank Wildlife Reserve' located just 15 minutes out of the city centre for $29.50 pp, the reserve is 18 acres of lush native plants and a host of deer, wallabies, water animals, kangaroos, farmyard animals, reptiles and the famous kiwi bird. It was lots of fun and we bought food for the animals and fed them, it was such a great hands on experience- even if my allergies were threatening to show. The best things were seeing the Kiwi and the adorable but smelly pigs!

Located at; 60 Hussey Road, Harewood, Christchurch 8051

Christchurch was severely damaged in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake which hit at lunch time on a busy working day, taking only 10 seconds to rob 185 people of their lives. We visited the city one year later and the damage was still so raw, streets shut off and buildings ripped apart. This time almost 5 years years later we seen the light coming back in the city, buildings were being re-built and new shiny buildings rising, still it was evident the city was still under repair, the cathedral was still ripped apart and a devastating sight to behold. The city is beautiful though, set along the Avon River, it has a lovely atmosphere. The first photograph is of a replacement church made entirely of cardboard.

We also went crazy golfing one afternoon, the Jucy website was offering 70% off so we paid just a few dollars, it was fun and of course Shannon won.

We visited the 'Canterbury Museum' located within the city centre, Open 9am-5pm (Apr- Sept) 9am-5.30pm (Oct-Mar). Free entry, with an appreciated donation

The museum showcases New Zealand's rich cultural and natural heritage. Where you learn about the past, present and future of Canterbury, exhibits include the Antarctic exploration and discovery, a Canterbury-focused insight into World War One through the personal stories of those who experienced it. Stories on the early European explorers who came followed by the whalers and then the settlers, and other cultural influences such as Japanese and the Egyptians, discover spectacular fossils and pop in to see the fun and quirky Fred and Myrtle's Paua Shell House, which is a real house which has been transported from Bluff, the house is covered floor to ceiling in the gorgeous paua shells, read here for the full story.

We visited the 'Air Force Museum of New Zealand' which is a 15 minute drive from the CBD or there are bus links. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm and entry is free, with donations being appreciated, you can also take a free 30 minute guided tour. The museum is located inside an aircraft hangar and there are many aircraft on display including a Spitfire, Skyhawk and Dakota. It was an interesting museum and glad we visited. Museum is located at 45 Harvard Ave, Wigram, Christchurch.

We checked out of our hostel but stayed around the common areas for a while, hoping to go unnoticed. Our flight wasn't until 4am so we had a day to pass, we re-packed our bags and even went to a near by 'Salvos' (Salvation Army) to drop off 2 bin bags full of clothes that we felt we no longer needed. As the day drew on we went for dinner then decided to have a nap in the car near the airport, after wakening we dropped our trusty little hire car off at the depot and took their shuttle bus to the airport. When we arrived the check in agents couldn't find us on the flight, then we heard people queuing behind us talk about an ash cloud in Lombok, turned out the flight was cancelled..... read what happened next on the next blog 'A detour to Brisbane'...

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