In May 2008, I went travelling on my own for the first time and was out of England for a month. Along the way I took in Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand before coming home. I kept a journal of my time on the road, so here’s a day by day account of my trials and tribulations that has the undeserved title of Dave’s Odyssey.
Day 6 – Christchurch, New Zealand
The 7.00 a.m. wake up call began a new day. I’d slept better than previous nights at least. Breakfast at the Tudor restaurant was another buffet affair, which I prefer. A suit of armour greets you at the entrance, continuing the influence of Henry VII and his children. It made one feel right at home.
After breakfast we drove to the outskirts of Christchurch and into the Cashmere Hills. The beautiful landscape I’d expected of New Zealand suddenly opened up before me along a high and winding road. Varied hills, dense forests and on the horizon the snow-tipped peaks of the Southern Alps. It was quite a spectacle.
Thankfully, the coach came to a stop and we were allowed to take photos of a fabulous panoramic view, including the Canterbury Plains, the Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean stretching deep inland. Clear skies made for some great photos. I settled for just three photos but am sure others in the group took more.
Dave filled us in on the local history and I was surprised to hear that one of the characters in the film Heavenly Creatures originally came from Christchurch. Along with her best friend, she committed murder and, on her eventual release, emigrated to Scotland where she now writes crime novels. Other areas of interest were the two Scottish brothers that first settled in Christchurch and whose descendants are still living in New Zealand to this day.
We headed back into the city to the centre of Christchurch. The focal point of the city is the cathedral. Surrounded by stalls, a tram line and host to a rambling wizard when the season is warm; he’s supposedly an expert in arguments! We took the obligatory photos in Cathedral Square, wandered the stalls before returning to the coach for our last destination.
The Canterbury Museum contained a diverse range of history:- prehistoric, early civilisations, geography, sports heroes, polar explorers, birds etc. It was free to go in but it’s surprising they don’t charge something, though you can make donations. Before you ask, yes I did!
After the museum we had the rest of the day free. I headed for the Botanic Gardens, which were on the doorstep of the Canterbury Museum. The Gardens were seemingly endless parkland dotted with trees and floral displays with the River Avon running through the centre. Beyond the Gardens I reached Lake Victoria, which was accompanied by a smaller lake named – yes, you guessed it – Lake Albert.
After the Botanic Gardens I headed for the Arts Centre. It’s an actual college for art students but some sections are open to the public and artwork is on display as well as for sale. I’m not a connoisseur of the arts but there were some nice pieces although the prices were far beyond my budget.
One section was devoted to Japanese architecture. It doesn’t sound the most exciting area to peruse but these designs from the Land of the Rising Sun were examples of the type of buildings the future may hold and they were weird and wonderful to say the least.
I completed the tour of Christchurch with a walk down the River Avon. This led me back into the heart of Christchurch. Before heading back to the Cotswolds Hotel I stopped off in Victoria Square which paid tribute to both Queen Victoria and to Captain Cook. Christchurch is undoubtedly proud of its English heritage.
Back at the hotel I found my international adapter wasn’t compatible with New Zealand plugs so I had buy one from the hotel. It’s a good investment because it works in Australia as well. I couldn’t get by without one because the digital camera eats through batteries faster than I get through a pizza.
I was privileged to sample some New Zealand television and what a feast it was. Bugging with Ruud follows an eccentric wildlife expert/amateur that wandered a desert to find out how bugs survived in the intense heat. Not content with observing their methods, Ruud practised them himself. Digging in the sand and rubbing the grains on his body, running over hot coals, you name it, Ruud did it. He’s one of those types. This lunatic was followed by two documentaries on shark attacks which have put me off going into the sea, I don’t mind saying.
Tomorrow the day begins at 6.00a.m. It’s a long drive through New Zealand to Queenstown. It feels like I’ve barely been in Christchurch and already we’re moving on. Looking ahead at the rest of the itinerary it seems the rest of the tour is going to be like this. It would be nice to spend a bit longer in some places but to be fair we’re cramming a lot into 31 days and at the snippet price it’s a bargain.
Latest posts by Dave Brown (see all)
- Guest Post: 5 Great TV Series to Binge Watch this Summer - July 13, 2016
- The Bleaklisted Movies: V for Vendetta - December 1, 2015
- DigiWriMo (Day 30): DIGIWRIMO #digiwrimo - November 30, 2015