I have just spent 5 days driving in the South Island. Although not that far from home, I did drive over 1300 km. Many months ago I booked a night in Christchurch to hear the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra play Mahler's 9th Symphony. The NZSO regularly comes to Dunedin but they were not playing the Mahler here and I love Mahler.
I also wanted to
visit the lower West Coast where I had not been since the 1970’s and see
the Mountains in winter. I sure managed that.
We had snow in
Dunedin down to sea level the Friday before so I hoped it would be
relatively fine. I was wrong. I left Dunedin early on Tuesday as snow
was forecast but had fine weather all the way to Christchurch. During
the performance there was hail on the roof of the Basketball stadium (no
concert halls have been rebuilt since the earthquake). It was raining
when I came out but my motel was only about 8 minutes walk away although
the ground was covered in ice.
The next morning I went into the city
and it is very depressing, some rebuilding but lots of empty spaces now
carparks and road and footpath construction everywhere. I had coffee in
a coffee shop I use to visit to but there were only constructions
workers there. There were very few people in the city partly I guess due
to it being winter.
I had not really been into the city since
the quake. I have passed through the airport several times and driven on
the western bypass. In March 2012 I drove my sister up to the airport
and drove her around the city but was too busy trying to get through the
traffic to see much myself. This time I left my car at the motel and
caught the bus into the city. I went to the old cathedral
and visited the new cardboard transitional cathedral.
There is some great artwork on the city walls amongst the reconstruction.
Look closely at this photo to see what is art work
in the afternoon I drove about an hour west to the town of Darfield at
the foot of the mountains. It was near the epicentre of the first quake
in September 2010.
8 hours ago