This morning I woke up at 4.30am; or was it 6.30am – well it was early. Needless to say I did snooze for about another hour when I realised it was Victorian time showing on my phone and that in New Zealand it was actually a reasonable time to wake up.
The Grange Boutique B&B where I am staying is lovely and the people are warm and friendly.
Breaky was lovely; home cooking and after I finished eating I sat outside in the beautiful outdoor sitting area and started blogging. A lovely American couple said hi and told me how they were heading off to Sydney today where they would catch a 23day cruise ship to Seattle, US.
Shirleen picked me up at 10am and we set off with Dolly, dog.
Today was a time for exploring, catching up and just experiencing something of this magnificent region. I still have no sense of direction here as there are so many inlets and hills, twists and turns. Of course traveling with a local I am seeing and experiencing a very different path than if I was just on the tourist track. That said, I am also experiencing the impact of the earthquake and the 2017 Christchurch fires that nearly burnt down Shirleen’s home.
To the uninitiated, the green areas you pass on your way to New Brighton appear to be like farmland. For the most of it, there used to be a suburb there. Yes whole neighborhoods wiped out by the quake. There are still some landscapes that show signs of suburbia – paddocks with street lights! Otherwise it just looks like a farming area. What I wasn’t expecting to see as we drove towards New Brighton Beach was a surf club. Yes, the shoreline there is a surf beach and it was stunning. As Shirleen pointed out, you would expect such a suburb to contain a wealthier demographic. But no, this was apparently one of the cheaper suburbs to live in. That said a cheap property here was between 2 & 300,000! Still out of my price range! This beach was also somewhere that Shirleen used to come as child and young woman.
After that, it was off to Sumner for ice-creams and a walk along the beach. Well we got the ice-creams in but it was so windy that it was impossible to walk along the street even without being whipped by the sand that was traveling with the wind. So it was ice-cream at the shop and back into the car.
I did however, manage to get a few photos of the area but I had no idea if they would work.
Typical of Kiwi humor, amidst the tragedy of the quake, there are some quirky moments. As we were leaving Sumner and starting our trek towards Lyttleton, we passed some rocks. Apparently it used to be one rock know as Shag Rock. Now they call it the Shagged Pile!!!
On our way to Lyttleton we passed through a suburb called Redcliffe. Again Shirleen was telling about an amazingly close-knit and well-off community they were. The local school was reknowned for having great facilities for which the local community worked hard to build up. From the road, the front facade suggests that the school remains however what you are looking at are the remains of the school. While the school was built on the flattest part of the area, below the hills, they suffered complete demolition when the hill behind them fell away onto the school. Thankfully no one was killed on the day, there were no injuries. Now looking at the school, I could see the tell-tale sides of nature starting to overtake the buildings and the yards. As Shirleen spoke of this she also pointed out how the road we were traveling on was an extremely dangerous place to be because of the great ease at which rock faces would crash onto the road in a quake and how there would be no escape. As I looked up also at the houses, the pathways and the roads I began to see what Shirleen saw living in and around Christchurch; houses that were empty and/or framed with scaffolding to stop them falling down completely; paths and roads that no longer travel in a line but are jagged and no longer usable. It reminds me of how I feel in the aftermath of horrendous bush fires we experince back in Victoria but different.
Lyttleton was different again. I used to be the main port for industry and cruise liners but apparently as I found out today, the big cruise liners can no longer enter the port because the sea floor plates moved and it’s no longer deep enough for them. The wharfies are currently on strike and so the yards, when we arrived, were full. For the most part it was timber that I could see but there were also massuve grain silos nearby which we saw later.
e arrived in Lyttleton just after 1pm to visit Lyttleton Bakery and Cakes Galore. Yes our hearts were set in eating the best cakes in town. And yes, you can imagine our disappointment when we discovered that they had sold out of most of their specialty cakes! As the staff informed us, the best time to get ther is 8am in the morning. And you know what? They had even run out of bottled water for me to buy! That said, the pie was delicious tasting – even if it was heavy on the gravy – and the lemon tart was yummy.
After that Shirleen showed me where they go jet-skiing. What a beautiful place and still part of the same bay.
Next, it was Governor’s Bay where we popped into a friend’s place to pick up something for Robin, Shirleen’s husband and to experience the world’s best hot chocolate. This friend lived up the side of one of the steepest hills I have ever driven. Walking up the driveway it felt like I was walking on a 45 degree angle just to keep my balance and the house – it was beautiful and so was the view.
fter that, excited by the prospect of heading up to Sugarloaf – the top of the Port Hills – Shirleen and I forgot about the hot chocolate! But what a beautiful view from Sugarloaf and yes the hill was covered with sheep and you could see Christchurch.
As we started to drive away Shirleen started yabbering at me to get a photo of a sheep on the road looking at us. I really wasn’t sure why but look at what I ended up with!!!
“A perfect shot for the tourism ads’ she says. Talk about laugh!
As we drove down the Sugarloaf, Shirleen remembered the hot chocolate and back we drove to Governor’s Bay and She Universe. Well what a beautiful place! For me, however it wax a long black but we did enjoy some chocolate and I bought some for after dinner that night so we could share them with Robin too.
Now our day was finished and the evening awaited. It was back to Shirleen’s where she had been slaving all day cooking a magnificent lamb roast! Slow cookers are great, aren’t they? Arriving finally, Shirleen gave me the grand tour and then we sat down on her outdoor patio, overlooking Christchurch and sipping on a magnificent Hawkesbury Chardonnay.
I felt and feel so grateful for this time to share in my friend’s world. Next minute, I get to meet Robin who Shirleen spoken about so much. And the rest of the evening was spent chatting, watching the sunset and the planes flying across the skyline. We laughed, shared stories and listened to music. Dinner was the best meal yet and the cheesecake and chocolates went down a treat.
You would think that’s where it ended, but no. I caught an Uber home and met a lovely young Punjabi man who talked with me about religion, politics, history, colonialism, justice and his dreams for the future.
What a lovely way to finish off and amazing and magnificent day.
PS Forgot to mention the bush fires but Robin and Shirleen spoke of their experiences and shared some amazing footage and photos of that time. Such a huge day!