Thursday, August 21, 2014

A few days in the South Island of New Zealand Part 1

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

Then 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.

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