WEDNESDAY, 16th November

Luckily, there was a free bed in a dorm room the next morning, so I moved, made some bookings for the next couple days of my trip, because I was guessing the summer season has started and I might have troubles with accommodation again in places like Kaikoura or Wellington. And I was right to do that!

When all was sorted, I went to see the city or what has left after the earthquake and after shakes.
I was going from Bealey Ave towards the city centre along Colombo Street. The closer the heart of the city, the quieter it was. Spooky. Then I finally saw the fence surrounding the CBD. I could only hear the noise of the machines dismantling the wounded buildings. It was like Berlin used to be in the 90s. The city centre was a huge work site.

The containers on the left hold up the wall

The dome from the top corner of Regent Theatre saved

Christchurch is said to be the most English city in New Zealand. And there used to be the oldest buildings. Who knows, maybe it’ll have the most interesting modern architecture on the Southern Hemisphere after the tragedy? New shops Re:Start. I like it!

Down along the street you get again to the fence and you can see the CBD through windows.

Avon River

Christchurch Art Gallery untouched, but closed anyway.

Up Worcester Boulevard, Arts Centre damaged and closed too

Opposite Caterbury Museum, slightly damaged, but all exhibitions open and free.

The highlight of the Museum, Paua House. In Bluff, there used to live a couple, Fred and Myrtle Flutey who decorated their house in paua shells. They became world famous in New Zealand. They had been married for over 70 years! They died ten years ago, and recently the interior of their house has been moved to the Museum.

When I left the Canterbury Museum, the sun was gone and the sky was covered with clouds. Behind the Museum, there were Botanic Gardens, so I went for a short walk around. I could hear some music playing near the Gardens, so I followed the sound. In Hagley Park, there were 10 local bands playing, ticket $10. It was tempting, but I was getting tired, cold and I had to catch a bus to Kaikoura early next morning, so I made my way back to the hostel. Going through Cranmer Square, I saw some tents and there were hours displayed in front of them and people queuing. I came up to one of the people wearing bright coloured vests and asked what was happening. I was told that there were buses going to the CBD red zone and if I wanted to go, they could put my name on the waiting list. H., my friend from Auckland had told me that those buses had recently started running, but I didn’t know where I should look for them. Probably the easiest way would be asking at the iSite, but I didn’t know where it was either. Everything from the centre has been shifted and when I found the Visitor Centre, next to the Museum, it was already closed. While I was waiting for a free place in one of the buses, I had a chat with the helpers and she told me that the best way is to call and book a tour or come and sign in at the square, just as I did.

Buses depart every 10 minutes, cost a golden coin donation, go for about 30 minutes and every one is usually full. Imagine how many people visit the CBD every day! There are tourists, but mostly local Kiwis from Canterbury who finally can see the centre of Christchurch and what has been happening there for almost a year. So it was with my bus at 7:20 pm.

“Victoria is still standing!” I didn’t notice that first, but time stopped there. You could see decorations from Chinese New Year or ads about summer sales.

I’d probably stay here

We stopped by the place where used to be CTV building

“I had a great party in this pub!”, someone said.

The creepiest view, the only human shapes were window mannequins.

The last stop was at Cathedral Square.

I didn’t know that this tour would be so emotional to me, but when I thought about people who died under those buildings, I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing.

from Invercargill to Stewart Island

SATURDAY, 5th November

I didn’t expect that! In the morning I was waken up by the hail fall.

That was my way to the bus stop.

Luckily, I could leave my big bag at the backpackers’ and pick it up when I return. It was a great solution, because 1) the weather was as you can see above and imagine me dragging my bag through that layer of hailstones and water; 2) I was going to Stewart Island by ferry, but I was planning to come back by plane where there was a 15 kg limit for the luggage.

I was a bit angry with myself that I had booked the ferry in Te Anau, not waiting to check out the connection once I get to Invercargill. Maybe they won’t tell you at the Visitor Centre, but the cheapest way to get to the Island and back is by plane. One way ferry ticket cost $69, but it’s from Bluff, so you can take a shuttle from Invercargill, which cost $23 or if you go by your car, you have to leave it at the car park in Bluff and pay about $5 or $7 for the first night and then I think $2 for every other night. So all in all, return trip is $182 if you take the coach! BUT you can call Stewart Island Flights one day before you want to fly there and ask about Standby Fare, which cost $70 one way and return $120. That’s $62 in your pocket! I didn’t know about that, so I could only safe $20 coming back to Invercargill by plane.

I packed my stuff in two small rucksacks, took the coach to Bluff (I was the only one on it) and boarded the ferry. It wasn’t large and I wasn’t the only one on it this time. I had been told that the crossing might be a rough ride and it was, but as long as I kept my eyes on the horizon, I was fine. One older lady got really sick.

Oban, the only town on Stewart Island, wasn’t big, but it had all that you needed.

Visitor Centre, ferry terminal

hotel, clothes shop, grocery store

Even though I arrived after 12 pm and had a lot of time, I wasn’t in the mood for tramping. It was cold outside and rained heavily every 20 minutes. I stayed at the Bunkers Backpackers with a warm living room and great selection of DVDs.

So most of that Saturday I stayed inside catching up on the Internet, which was free and watching films starting from “Boat that Rocked”, “Billy T Live” and then “Boy”. Betweet the films I just left the hostel to do some shopping and I had awesome blue cod with chips from Kai Kart.

I realized it was 5th November, Guy Fawkes Night, when I saw the bonfire through the window. When I got myself to go to the beach, it was much smaller than before.