Day 2: Christchurch

Day 2: Christchurch
Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand


Day 2 began where Day 1 left off – on a plane!

We got into Christchurch just after midnight. From there it was a fairly simple matter of getting through Customs, explaining what all the “yes” boxes were that we’d ticked on our arrival card, having our bags xrayed and sniffed by the sniffer dogs, and finally we were free to go. Our motel runs a shuttle service until 2 am, so all we had to do was call and by the time we got to the meeting place, they were already there.

Another couple had called before we had, but hadn’t managed to work out where they had to go, so after putting our bags in the bag, the driver disappeared back into the terminal to look for them. When we got to the motel, she asked if the airline had told us that daylight saving began in New Zealand today.

Uh, no. So you mean it’s not 1 am, it’s 2 am?

We went to bed pretty much as soon as we got into the room (after telling Kramstable that no, just because there were three pillows in the bed, it didn’t mean it was a three-person bed, and no he wasn’t going to sleep with us).

We’d only booked this motel one night, because it was close to the airport, and were transferring to another one closer to the city centre for our second night, but in hindsight it would have been better to have stayed where we were.

Never mind.

We had (a very expensive) breakfast in a cafe down the road, and checked out at 10 am. Our rental car company had a shuttle service that picked us up from our hotel and took us back to their terminal at the airport (yay!) After sorting out the paperwork (and arranging to get a new registration label for the car during the week!) we were on our way.

Only we had no idea where we were going, so we just asked the guy at the rental agency how to get out of the airport. After a brief detour we made our way into the city with no real idea of what to do.

We decided a tour on the Christchurch tram would be interesting, to give us a feel for the place. Our tram was a 1920 tram, which had originally been a two-driver tram but later modified to a one-driver tram. It does a couple of circuits around the city, going past the main interest spots over 17 stops. You can get off and on at any of the stops on the day you buy your ticket.

The thing that strikes you most about Christchurch is the devastation from the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. The 2010 quake was the strongest, but the bulk of the damage was done by the 2011 quake. It’s hard to describe what it’s like, and difficult to see what’s changed because I wasn’t familiar with the city and what it looked like before, but it was sad to see the broken and boarded up buildings, empty blocks and remains of what had once stood.

I felt a bit guilty about travelling round and looking at it all – but I got the feeling that the city is recovering and rebuilding and they don’t want you to feel sad, but to share in what seems to be an optimism for the city’s future. We saw things riding from the rubble – the Re-Start mall built out of brightly coloured shipping containers, the public art installations and paintings on some of the empty walls, and the exhibition about future Christchurch.

There’s a lot of activity, and I couldn’t help wondering if every crane and digger in New Zealand was in Christchurch. I felt especially sorry for the cathedral. It was one of Christchurch’s iconic buildings and was so badly damaged that apparently there has been a decision to demolish it, but no real plan on how to replace it. There is opposition to this, and I can understand this. I imagine it would be like if Sydney lost the Opera House. Still Cathedral Square is a hub of activity for the city, and one of the new features is an installation called Planted Wheare, “affirming life and existence, alongside the acknowledgement of loss”.

The last leg of the tram route is through New Regent Street, which our driver Ian described as the best shopping in Christchurch, and we just happened to see the Wizard of Christchurch and a couple of his apprentices at a coffee shop.

After lunch we found our new motel just out of the city centre, It’s the first motel that I’ve ever been to with emergency advice for what to do in an earthquake in the motel directory. Slabs and Kramstable had a rest and I went for a walk to get a bit closer to some of the things we’d seen from the tram.

I love walking through new cities and exploring and seeing the little random things you’d never see from a car, bus or tram.

In the evening we headed out to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve for an introduction to New Zealand’s birdlife and Maori culture. First up was a tour of the birdlife in the park. This included a stop-off with the slimy eels and an up-close encounter with New Zealand’s most annoying bird, the kea. The kea at the park are very fond of people and will just land on your shoulder and start to chew your jacket, scarf or finger (if you’re stupid enough to put your hand anywhere near their beak lalalalala).

The main focus of this part of the night was the kiwi, which we saw in the nocturnal house. We learned that there is more than one type of kiwi, their eggs are massive (see picture – this is a kiwi egg compared to a chicken egg – when the mama kiwis lay an egg it’s so big it’s equivalent to a human giving birth to a 3 year old child – and they do this three times a year!) A baby kiwi’s chance of survival in the wild before they reach 6 months is about five per cent, so a lot of the eggs are brought to the park and incubated and raised to a size where they have a better chance of survival before being put back into their habitat, which has apparently helped to maintain the population. They are threatened by all manner of introduced species including stoats (introduced to kill the introduced rabbits, but kiwi are easier to catch and kill), possums, cats and dogs, and wild pigs.

The second part of the night was the Ko Tane Maori experience, where we learned about the Ngai Tahu Maori people, which is the tribe of the South Island. We received a traditional welcome to the South Island and learned about how the people lived in the area. Then we had a performance of some of their cultural songs and dances, which included a chance for the women to learn a poi dance (this is not a skill I possess) and the men to learn a haka. It was fascinating introduction to the culture of this country and something I’m really glad we did.

Finally it was time for dinner. Four courses, including dips, kumara soup (“one of the best soups I have ever had,” said Kramstable – and I agree), a huge banquet of meat and vegetables cooked in a pit of hot rocks, and dessert. Somewhere in the middle of all this food, the kids went out to feed the deer, which Kramstable enjoyed immensely. By this time we’d definitely made up for last night’s dinner on the plane (not sure how long I can drag this one out as an excuse for overeating!), and it was time to head back to our motel for (we hoped) more sleep than we got last night.

12 of 12 february 2014

12 February 2014 was a Wednesday, two days after a Public Holiday. This week is the second week of school and I’m still trying to get myself back into the routines. I’m struggling.

1 of 12 – The sun rose.

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2 of 12 – Juniordwarf’s current obsession is the TV show Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. He rather likes the Nanny Plum character, and he’s designated me as the Queen and himself as the maid, AKA Nanny Juniordwarf. So he’s given me his crown to wear. I have permission to leave it in the car when I go to work, because I’m not a Queen at work.

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3 of 12 – Hobart was hit by a major storm on Sunday and we were driving home right in the middle of it. Some trees in St David’s Park were badly damaged and the park was closed this morning while they assessed the damage and made the area safe.

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4 of 12 – All that can be seen of the old Print Building in Salamanca Place from street level now.

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5 of 12 – The mountain emerging from low-lying cloud. Today was a welcome relief from the heat. (If you’re on the mainland, my definition of ‘heat’ might differ from yours . . . I have a very low tolerance.)

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6 of 12 – Zoe hasn’t been to work with me for a while. There is weird stuff going on in Teddy Land, and Zoe is now a witch who lives in a very messy house separately from the other teddies. (If you watch Ben and Holly you’ll understand, otherwise you may nod and move on.)

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7 of 12 – There was quite a lot of activity going on in the park when I left work and there were a few people standing round watching branches being cut off this tree. There were also a few cruise ship visitors around, and I wondered what they made of walking in between the demolition of the Print Building on one side of the street and the chainsawing of the trees in the park on the other side. (See photo 4.)

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8 of 12 – We got home to a delightful display of birds in our garden. We think we have identified these as Yellow Crescent Honeyeaters.

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9 of 12 – Some days the chickens don’t want to use the laying box. Earlier in the month we thought they’d stopped laying, only to find a stash of about 15 eggs in what has been dubbed “The Egg Butty”. Blame Juniordwarf for that one.

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10 of 12 – Whenever we let the rabbit out, the chooks don’t take long to move in.

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11 of 12 – Juniordwarf has allocated himself some jobs to do in his new role as the maid. One is the washing, but it’s a magic washing machine and he has to say, “Washing machine: wash all the clothes. Abracadabra!” (If you watch Ben and Holly you’ll understand, otherwise you may nod and move on.)

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12 of 12 Coincidentally today’s Ben and Holly story was the one where Nanny Plum and the Wise Old Elf swap jobs for a day, and the Wise Old Elf has to do the washing. “Washing machine: wash all the clothes. Abracadabra!”

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Bruny – day 2 (part 3)

After we’d finished exploring Cape Bruny (Day 2, Part 2), we still had enough time to head back to north Bruny and visit the Get Shucked Oyster Bar and Bruny Island Cheese Factory.

Get Shucked was great. 

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You can buy oysters to eat there with a beverage of your choice, or to take away. There were several different styles, but we opted for natural.

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Juniordwarf has a bit of a phobia about oysters, ever since I got sick one day, which I put down to a bad oyster – but I really don’t know. He’s been obsessed about ‘bad oysters’ ever since, and has been worried that if anyone eats oysters ever again they’ll get sick.

So it was a huge step for him to try an oyster today and I’m very proud that he did.

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Despite the look on his face, he nodded a lot and said, ‘I like oysters, I do, I do.’ But one was enough.

Not to worry, more for us!

Oysters and a glass of Tassie Sauvignon Blanc. What a lovely way to wind down the afternoon.

The Bruny Island Cheese Company is just down the road from Get Shucked. We were too late for the café, so no woodfired pizza for us, but were able to taste some of the cheeses on offer.

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They were great cheeses and I liked them all. Some more than others, and it was interesting to see the differences in our tastes. (1792, which is matured on Huon Pine, had a very interesting flavour from the wood that I really liked.)

The cheeses are hand made and aged in the rind.  It was interesting to see the difference between the size of the newer cheeses compared to the ones that were more mature. The reduction in size is due to the water loss that occurs during the ageing.

The lady at the cellar door explained that most factory-made cheese is not aged in the rind because the manufacturers don’t want to lose the volume that is lost during the rind-ageing process. It’s aged in plastic so it doesn’t lose water. (At least this is what I think she said . . . feel free to correct me if you are a cheese guru and understand how all this works.)

We restricted ourselves to one cheese to take away, the raw milk C2, which was high on my list of favourites. The plan was to have some of it with one of our favourite wines later in the evening.

When we got back to the campground Juniordwarf and I decided to go over the road to the beach. Four years ago, Juniordwarf would very reluctantly go into the water, and he’d freak out whenever a wave came near him. We have video footage from one trip of him asking if he could turn the water off.

Now he’s a lot more used to the water and it’s hard to get him out. He started out with his usual trick of holding up his board shorts so they didn’t get wet.

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Not long after, he realised that it was much more fun to actually get in the water. He ended up rolling around in the shallows laughing hysterically every time a wave crashed over him. It was hilarious to watch.

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Dinner tonight was a BBQ at the campground, and we were visited by a little group of wrens that had been around the whole time we were there.

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After dinner we had this.

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Tonight I watched a yellow full (ish) moon over the beach until it was sucked into low lying clouds. Beautiful.

Then I went to sleep listening to the sound of crashing waves. Today was awesome.

P365 – Day 204 – they won’t peck me

We went to watch our local footy team play today. Because there was a function being held in the area we usually go to, we sat on the boundary fence to watch the game.
Juniordwarf got a bucket of hot chips – as you do at the footy – which, after a mix up between him and Slabs over who was holding the bucket, mostly ended up on the ground next to our feet.
As you can imagine, this attracted some very eager seagulls.
The arrival of the birds freaked Juniordwarf out, and was somewhat untimely. Just today we’d been talking about how a time we’d been in a park when Juniordwarf was much younger, and a flock of ducks had descended upon us. He’d been terrified by them. He was asking about that day today, asking why the ducks had come near him (because we had food) and whether they had pecked him* (of course not).
So when the horde of seagulls arrived, he got a bit upset and pulled his legs up on the bench we were sitting on to get away from them. He was worried that they were going to peck him. He kept seeking my reassurance: ‘They won’t peck me?’ he kept saying.
I explained that they were only after the chips, not him, and that they wouldn’t even come close enough to get the chips because they were more scared of him than he was of them.
Juniordwarf was eventually convinced that he wasn’t going to be pecked by a flock of seagulls (a task made easier by Slabs getting him another bucket of chips) and relaxed enough to watch the game. Or at least let us watch the game. He read his books.
And we threw the chips a bit further away so the seagulls could feast in peace and stop bugging him.
The game was a good one. Our team, which hasn’t lost a game all year, was quite a long way behind when we got there at half time, and made a good effort to try and catch the opposition during the third and fourth quarters. Near the end of the game our team had closed the gap, but I didn’t think it was going to be enough. Towards the end of the quarter one of our players scored an amazing goal that just got over the line before it was caught by the opposition defender. We were in the perfect position to see it had just cleared the line, despite the protests from the opposition supporters.
Hipstamatic – really doesn’t work with long shots
Shooting into the afternoon sun (Camera+)
Action! (Camera+)
That goal put our team in front, and shortly afterwards our team scored another goal to win by seven points.
It was pretty good afternoon then. The footy team won, and Juniordwarf didn’t get pecked by seagulls.
* I think Juniordwarf’s fear of ducks pecking him has come from a Dr Harry book, of all places. Dr Harry is a TV vet, and Juniordwarf has a book where Dr Harry walks around the farm checking on the chickens and ducks, and on one page he’s holding a duck ‘very carefully so she doesn’t peck him’. 

P365 – Day 131 birds

Tonight as I was walking up the street to pick up Juniordwarf from after-school care, I noticed a flock of birds doing laps in the sky above me. 

I’d noticed it last week as well and had wondered if this was something they did every day at about 5.00 or if it was just something they felt like doing that day, so I was happy to see them again today. 

I’ve only seen this happen twice, because I don’t normally go that way, so I still don’t know if it happens every evening or if it’s just something they randomly do. I don’t even know if they’re the same birds.
I wanted to stay and watch them to see how long they did it for and where they went to next, but my little boy was waiting for me, and picking him up is one of my favourite parts of the day.