After Omaru, we happily boarded our final intercity bus of the trip. The buses have been really easy, and cheap, but we were really bloody fed up of sitting on the bus by this point!
Christchurch was our destination. Having suffered two huge earthquakes, one in 2010 and another the following year, Christchurch is a shell of the city it once was. There’s not much there anymore, and it’s really sad to see. Loads of the buildings are now unsafe to enter, so they’re decaying and covered in graffiti. Some of the older churches remain, propped up by scaffolding, but most of the buildings have been demolished and then turned into carparks. So I guess it would have been handy if we had a car – plenty of places to park!
We had another long slog to get to the hostel. This time in the rain. Luckily it was a nice one again – phew! We did some laundry, made some food and then fell asleep, totally knackered from seeing so many places and walking so far.
The next day was a lazy start – I love a relaxing morning when you’re not rushing to check out! We waited for the rain to stop, but it didn’t, so we headed out into the city. We walked past a lovely memorial – A church badly damaged in the first quake was rebuilding when it was destroyed by the second. Instead of starting again they decided to take 187 of the stones from the building (one for each person who died) and lay them out as a memorial pathway.
Next we found the cardboard cathedral. The original again fell in the earthquakes, so a Japanese designer made this one – complying to earthquake safety standards by 130% and made with cardboard pillars and a plastic roof. Despite not being huge, it seats over 700 and feels enormous, and so full of light.
We then walked to the city square where another church is propped up with scaffolding and full of pigeons. All round the city is street art, which is really beautiful and gives the place a sense of optimism and hope for the slow but steady rebuild.
We then headed back to the hostel and prepared for the arrival of ZE GERMANS!
Philine and Kerry arrived and it felt so good to see them! We headed to the supermarket and then had a few drinks in the campervan before heading out for a night out. We walked for what felt like an hour in the rain to several bars that were having private parties and then finally found an Irish bar that let us have a drink. We had been walking for so long that we decided to get some food (macdonalds of course) and then head home. We had to walk for about 45minutes again in the rain. (everything is so spread out in Christchurch) before finally seeing the golden arches.
It was closed. But the drive through was open. We tried going to the window and pretending to be in a car but the server was having none of it. He suggested that we call a taxi and get the cab to drive us round…. We were stumped…. And quite drunk… And very hungry…
We stood around moaning for ages and then a car pulled up and a man got out and walked towards us, speaking in sign language. As Tom’s mummy is a teacher of the deaf, Tom can speak sign language too, and quickly started conversing with the guy, and then said “okay, he says he’ll take me round if I do his order too!”
Tom Copley = my absolute hero. Turns out the guy was French, and it was his first day in New Zealand. It was an awesome, yet very surreal moment. We all found it absolutely hilarious that in order to get a Macdonalds when you’re drunk in Christchurch, you have to be able to speak sign language to a deaf French man. Challenge accepted!
Philine and Kerry slept in their van parked on the street outside the hostel. We were very relieved to find them still there in the morning, and after a bit of recovery, we were on the road to Kaikura.