After Milford, I met up with my college pal Barb and her brother Rob. We took off from Queenstown immediately for a cruise in Doubtful Sound. It was completely opposite from my Milford Track hike in that everything was very scheduled, guided and provided for…aka just what the doctor ordered.
The sites were absolutely breathtaking. It’s also surprisingly remote–to get there we took a bus from Queenstown, to a boat, to another bus, to our cruising boat. Once aboard our overnight vessel we saw a several birds, penguins, and seals, did a sea kayak, had a lovely meal followed by a great nights sleep.
After the cruise, Barb and her bro took off to do the guided version of Milford track and I headed back to Queenstown. It doesn’t take long to realize that it’s a small ski town, a bit on the touristy side, and not someplace I’d want to spend 4 days just bumming around. New friends Aurora and Liz convinced me to join their road trip to Christchurch and we set off.
The drive was stunning…
Once there Aurora continued to pour on the hospitality and offered Liz and I a place to stay, food and wine.
Now, I have to say one of the most noticeable things about talking to anyone about Christchurch is there is a very distinct notion of how things were before the earthquake, and how things are now. You notice the effects immediately. Shipping containers line roads next to cliff sides to keep rocks and rubble from falling onto the streets and houses. Remains of houses and foundations still sit on some cliffsides waiting to be demolished. Construction zones are everywhere and road closures change weekly to accommodate the work.
Then, you realize that this earthquake happened back in 2011. The way the city looks, it seems like it could have been months ago. Insurance money has been delayed and they are just getting to destructing and rebuilding parts of the city. Others debate on if and how certain buildings should be restored.
The downtown wasn’t all construction and doom and gloom; there was a pretty cool shopping center called Restart mall made entirely out of shipping containers, as well as a nice botanical garden that I got to visit.