Sunday, 22 February 2015

Christchurch, remembering, honouring and growing

Where once there were homes and communities, now there are wide open spaces, roads to nowhere and stark reminders of what once was there.

As if by magic, overnight road cones were festooned with flowers as has become part of the ritual, remembering the events of February 22, 2011; the lives lost and the lives changed.

There are many visual reminders of the gravity of that moment at 12.51pm as the city is still in recovery mode.

There are places to go to, to reflect and remember, and to begin to heal

And always on the skyline, cranes; rebuilding, helping to give the city hope and strengthen it's heart and future. Supported by it's people and those who have come from all over the country, and the world to help and make a difference for the future.

Who knows, in time the architectural changes and style may come to be as iconic for the Christchurch of the future, as the Art Deco style has come to be today for Napier.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Bird Spotting

You might remember that we spent some time trying to spot birds and other wildlife while we were in Suffolk (and the UK as a whole).

There are times when Christchurch and Canterbury remind us of Suffolk - flat farmland, rolls of hay dotted across paddocks, (what are those called ? they aren't hay bales - maybe they are hay rolls) haze across the water and lots of rivers.

Yesterday evening we decided to go to Southshore to see if we could spot any Godwits. I read about an event to be held there later this week to farewell them as they leave Christchurch for the winter. Seems they are a pretty big thing here.

They spend the summer in Alaska and make the trip back here to Christchurch every year, arriving in September/October. Theirs is the longest non-stop migration route, about 11,500 km (7145 miles) over about 8 days. Around 2000 of them make their summer home on the Avon/Heathcote estuary and on other waterways like Lake Ellesmere. They "summer" in other parts of NZ as well, but Christchurch seems to make a real big deal about them arriving and leaving.Their trip back to the north takes them up through eastern Asia with the opportunity to stop and rest on the way.

While we were wandering across the reserve toward the estuary we were reminded of the day we spent at RSPB Minsmere minus the "hides" that were placed there to sit and watch and wait, and spot birds.  It occurred to me that while councils and DOC do a great job providing and maintaining open spaces and access to them for residents and visitors - we could be doing this better. Why don't we have an organisation like the Royal Society for Protection of Birds or a Woodland Trust ? A little more information about what species we might encounter would have been great too.

Turns out we didn't see any godwits - just pied oystercatchers. Oh well, maybe next time. Hope you can see them in the photos. According to NZ Birds online, they are declining - I thought there looked like there were masses of them there feeding yesterday.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


When I was a kid we went to the beach and built sandcastles with our buckets and spades. The normal type you see at beaches everywhere, with a moat, shell decorations and maybe a flag fashioned from something you found. Then you waited until the sea reclaimed it all.

Sandcastle building for adults is a while different thing. 

The 4th New Zealand sandcastle competition was held at New Brighton yesterday, so we went for a drive to see.

Pretty clever - taking a load of this and turning it into something so amazing
 kinda puts my sandcastle building to shame.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Time for another road trip

It has been a while since the days off were aligned in our house. Actually it is going to happen again next weekend thanks to a public holiday. But that is an adventure yet to unfold.

This weekend almost gone, it was decided that we would road trip to Wanaka. So early on Saturday morning we set off. Five hours or so the guide said it would take. It was actually a little more than that with a few stops for drinks and photos along the way. 

Last time we had made the drive as far as Omarama it had been winter so the scenery was quite different. Then it was blue water, blue skies and snow covered mountains. 

This time everything on the way was parched and brown - thanks to no rain and drought conditions throughout the region.

By the time we got to Wanaka we were hot and grumpy and hungry. So after we settled in to the motel we went for a drive to see what we could see. We didn't find much in the way of shops or food, but I think now we just timed it wrong. Maybe next time. But we took some pretty great photos. (just sayin'..)

This morning we got up extra early and drove to Queenstown via Arrowtown. This was by far a more spectacular drive and one everyone should try to do. It would be truly amazing in winter, but then you would also have to contend with chains, or at worst closed roads as well. We liked the vibe in Queenstown, it felt busier as opposed to quiet Wanaka. We had a bit of a look around and breakfast from that US Embassy found most places around the world, then started our homeward journey via Cromwell back to Omarama and then down the Waitaki Valley to the coast just south of Timaru.

What a whirlwind trip ! But I did see a few places I'd like to go back and spend time exploring, one day.

Favourite photo this roadie ?? 

This one.

P.S. - no photoshopping on any of these - the colours were exactly these !! Amazing.