Goodbye Australia, for now, hello New Zealand. I had to learn about NZ in high school and my impression was no different from that about Australia being so far away. Arriving in Christchurch my initial impression was how beautiful the place is especially with the gardens as we pass homes. Flowers will get me all the time. This is a clean city with friendly people and it was easy to walk around. My friend insisted on getting New Zealand butter to take back home and despite we had several days ahead of us and we were going to go to Fiji, she was bent on hunting down this butter. A little background is that we usually got NZ products in Jamaica and that’s where she got the idea of getting the butter. I humored her and went on the hunt and may I say a good bit of walking, until we finally found a place only to find out it wasn’t possible to get cheese or butter to take home nor were they able to tell us how to go about exporting it. Truth be told this might have been a waste of money because of the inability to keep it the proper temperature etc..
During our walk we came upon folks punting on the Avon
Another striking structure was the Victoria clock tower also referred to or known as the Jubilee Clock Tower. Quite an impressive structure with an history associated with Queen Victoria.
A stop at Christchurch Cathedral it was destroyed by earthquake later so glad we visited and saddened to hear of the destruction.
I will discuss the Maori (NZ indigenous) culture later and there was evidence of the Maori right here in Christchurch.
Visiting the Mona Vale Park was like visiting a botanical garden on a beautiful day.
This park is quite extensive with venues for weddings for example and at certain sections the Avon flows. Even with a few hours it is a place to visit.
This tour was coordinated by Grand Circle and one of the highlights of taking one of their tours is the opportunity to do home visits. In Christchurch we had a new experience as our home visit was an overnight stay in a family’s home. We were a bit apprehensive but was willing to have the experience. Accommodations were made for families, for couples or single folks traveling. We were picked up by the host and taken to their home where we dined and exchanged cultural practices etc. I have always felt that traveling is not just visiting a new country but offers lots of educational opportunities. Our host had horses, dogs and an animal I had not seen before but seemed to be what I thought was a llama but soon learned this was an Alpaca.
The morning after breakfast we returned to join our group to continue our visit to New Zealand going South. Traveling South via bus was a great experience giving us a chance to enjoy the landscape that included vineyards, waterfalls and lakes. We stopped at the Kawarau Bungy Centre which is the home of the bungy.
There were some senior members in our group and to my surprise a couple was daring enough to bungy jump, to be honest I was nervous of the husband, who was older, especially when I saw him dangling before the boat picked him up and the color change in his face when he came back to the viewing stand, but he survived. This was another first for me being at a bungy site and seeing jumps live I am not that adventurous. No sky diving, bungy jump or helicopter rides.
Take a glimpse of some of the landscape as we continued South.
We stopped by Lake Tekapo viewed from the Church of the Good Shepherd built as a memorial of the pioneers.
We stopped at the historical site of Arrowtown Chinese Settlement which has become a popular tourist attraction. The site is well maintained with some original structures used by the Chinese who were part of the gold rush.
The fall colors were radiant as we strolled around the site. Our host in Christchurch suggested that we not miss the Milford Sound experience and they were correct. The view included cascading waterfalls, fur seals and majestic mountainsides.
Thanks for checking in my New Zealand experience continues from Queenstown and Auckland.