Prematurely, it seems to be winter. And here in Karitane where Mary and I are currently staying in a borrowed “crib” (Southern word for a small holiday home), it is especially bleak as the remnants of a tropical storm cause havoc in the Northern parts of the country.
But let’s begin at the beginning. On Thursday last, we set out in the predawn darkness to catch the ferry from Wellington to Picton. The voyage across the strait on the Kaitaki was pleasant enough. and then we began the long, long journey through Blenheim and Murchison to get to our first stopping point at Hanmer Springs. State highway 1 from Picton to Kaikoura is still firmly closed and likely to remain so for at least another year consequent to the earthquake in November. The detour is also heavily damaged and there were dozens of places where traffic was limited to 30 km/h for road works, and often stopped entirely to permit one-way traffic to operate.
Unlike many, however, we had no pressing need to adhere to a schedule, so despite the mild inconveniences of the journey, we could enjoy the undoubted grandeur of the South Island’s scenery. I neglected to record exactly where this image was taken, but I think it is somewhere in the Hurunui district a little way out of Hanmer Springs. I think we are looking across the Hope River at the Organ Range with the Glynn Wye range to the right
We spent two days in Hanmer Springs before resuming our journey to Christchurch. Check-in time at out next accommodation in St Alban’s was mid-afternoon, so Mary and I went to the New Brighton Pier to enjoy lunch beside the sea. I seem to cause scaffolding to be erected, and whether it’s the Washington Monument or the Castlepoint Lighthouse, I seem to put a visual curse on well known landmarks.
The surf at New Brighton was slight, but there were many enthusiasts out there in their wet suits enjoying various forms of their sport and waiting patiently for the right wave.
We settled in to a superb apartment (thanks Airbnb), and the following day I wandered around the CBD. Six years after the big earthquake, it is apparent that though much has been done, the damage to this still beautiful city will be visible for many years to come. Apparently a decision on the fate (replace or rebuild) of the iconic cathedral is imminent, but as of this week, it sits forlornly inside the fence with weeds growing up through its once clean and well swept paving. I liked the statue on the Northern side, and was surprised to learn that it is unrelated to the Cathedral, but is in fact, the citizens’ War Memorial, funded by public subscription after WWI.
As I said, the damage lingers on, and despite all the new buildings going up, there are many fenced off sites where remediation or replacement has yet to begin. This one is on the corner of Colombo St and Oxford Terrace.
We enjoyed some time with Mary’s brother and his wife, and after a wonderful dinner with them decided to go to Diamond Harbour the next day. Sadly, the weather deteriorated, but we went anyway. A nice lunch was had in Lyttelton on our return from a grey and wet Diamond Harbour.
We enjoyed our few days in the garden city and have now moved South to Karitane. This is a tiny coastal village on the southern side of the Waikouaiti River where it flows into the Pacific. In normal times it is a popular weekend destination for people getting out of Dunedin, but as of this moment, with rain lashing the windows and the trees whipping about in the garden, it seems a little less attractive. However, the weather is predicted to improve. We did a small tour of the area yesterday and I got this view of Karitane from a lookout on a hill to the South of the town. More of our journey next week.