…..and on to Christchurch

Jo Anne, with her mother Audrey, and son Nathaniel

Jo Anne, with her mother Audrey, and son Nathaniel

Two years on from the earthquake that all but detroyed the whole city, I wondered what I was about to discover. A depressed city that had lost its way? Or a community that was “digging” itself out of the depths and restoring its own former glory?
Through the eyes of one of its residents, I was to learn that some amazingly imaginitive solutions were being found for the problems. I met Jo Anne in Kaitaia, up in Northland,CIMG8511 minutes after I had set off from the airstrip to find my first hostel. She, along with her friend Kim, were having time together with their respective special needs children. They both made the first Kiwi donations to the Children in Syria Appeal as I was standing in line for a Subway sandwich. Jo Anne said she lived in Christchurch, and offered accommodation when I got down there.
CIMG8516A tour of the city centre revealed a huge amount of devastation. Many buildings and tower blocks had been razed to the ground, and many others were awaiting a similar fate. But amidst all the destruction, imaginitive methods of regeneration were strongly in evidence. Ship containers can be seen everywhere, shoring up crumbling cliff sides as well as providing temporary accommodation for many businesses.
A whole shopping mall has been generated from ship containers, all artfullyCIMG8518 structured and painted, windows and facilities installed…..in fact you could be forgiven for thinking you were entering a concept precinct that had been designed by eminent architects.
The people of Christchurch are evidently still very proud of their city, the most English of all the cities in NZ, and one day the restoration itself will be a huge draw to visitors, like the art-decco style of the once destroyed Napier on North Island.

CIMG8460Now a little eavesdrop on conversations I’ve had with fellow cyclists. Whenever I meet a fellow cyclist on the road or at a campsite, I am inevitably met with the observation: “Heck, you are travelling light. How do you do it?”. I usually reply: “Oh it’s quite easy, I just leave a lot of stuff at home”. Not satisfied, some of them continue: “Well I’ve been doing this for years, trying to cut down on the weight I carry, but I could never get by on that small amount. How do you manage it?” “Oh simple

Steve & Vicki from Minnesota

Steve & Vicki from Minnesota

really, I just leave a lot of stuff at home………”. At a campsite, after one such conversation, the cyclist in question told me the next morning that he had thrown half the contents of one pannier in the bin……. Strangely, he didn’t seem saddened by the radical action. In fact there was a hint that a weight had been taken from his shoulders!
Funny thing is, others think I travel light, but when I’m climbing over mountains I am always convinced I could shed a few more grams.

David & Lauren from Portland, Oregon, and Ros Stace, National President of Save the Children NZ

David & Lauren from Portland, Oregon, and Ros Stace, National President of Save the Children NZ

My route tomorrow was to take me over Arthur’s Pass, a long labourious crossing of the Southern Alps, heading in a NW direction. With the forecast predicting that a front will be coming in from the NW and dumping a lot of rain on the west of the island, I have decided to head across Mackenzie country (flat and fen-like), then head into the mountains towards Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook (and hopefully stay in the dry a few more days).
Make a donation: www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns1

Couldn't by-pass all the vineyards without visiting one! This is Greystones Wines:www.greystonewines.co.nz. Highly recommended!

Couldn’t by-pass all the vineyards without visiting one! This is Greystones Wines:www.greystonewines.co.nz. Highly recommended!



About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on February 8, 2013, in New Zealand End-to-End 3000kms and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Been thinking, Frank, that just maybe your sign attached to the back of your cycle might be a weight penalty item. Is it possible that you might have holes drilled and large chunks removed? Dual purpose of course. Reduced weight and help with aerodynamics as the openings would reduce frontal area. Stay (very) calm and pedal on.

  2. Funny, a friend of mine (also from here in the U.S.) has just just been in Christchurch and he shared photos of the shipping-container shopping center. Very ingenious.

  3. Pleased you made Christchurch and saw the devastation. We were there twice, in ’05 & ’07 before the earthquake, but we understand the apartment we stayed in, the same on both visits, was so badly damaged it had to be pulled down. We saw the cathedral, but didn’t go in. We now wished we had done so.
    Pity you’re having to miss Arthur’s Pass as it’s spectacular. We went through on the TranzAlpine, a very good trip. Not sure when you’ll get to Lake Tekapo. We stopped in Geraldine for a night and then did a flight over Mt Cook and the glaciers from Lake Tekapo. That was excellent.

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