Monday, March 25, 2013

Going Home to the Empty Nest

After arriving in Wellington from our trip to deliver Katrina to start university life in Christchurch, we stayed for a day at my older brother and his wife, Gordon and Di’s home.

We are always entertained by the bird life they have visiting their feeding trays.

Normally its is just the many Tui's but this morning we were entertained by a North Island Kaka 

North Island Kaka

We also spent time visiting my parents and then having a lovely meal with my other brother and his wife, Stuart and Liz and Theresa.

Saturday saw us make the trip home passing through the worsened parched land and seeing the mountains nearly bare of snow.

It seemed odd to enter the home knowing that from now on it would be just Harry and me living here.  We have been married for 34 ½ years and had one to all five of our children living with us for 32 ½ of those years.

The start of something quite new.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Delivering Katrina to University - Day 5

Our final day in Christchurch had arrived. It was time to farewell Katrina but before we left, Callums Step dad took us on a tour of such, to the suburbs of Christchurch still living daily with the effects of the earthquakes.

This house has fallen forward into the ground
First we had a look around other homes in Kaipoi.
Many of the homes around where Callum and his mum live have either been demolished or are still in the process of it. The whole community out at Pines Beach will have to be demolished and the camp site moved further up the hill.

We drove passed whole suburbs of houses that looked fine but would have to be completely demolished as the houses and/or sections were unsafe now. Some of these homes were near new and worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The thought of whole suburbs; people that have built connections with one another as neighbours, in community centres, schools, churches etc now having to spread apart is unnerving to say the least. If we move from a place, we can come back and still expect to find things about the same as what it was when we left, but this was not going to be an option for these communities.

We then went around to Sumner where the cliff tops had tumbled away. All along the bottom of the cliff there were now rows upon rows of containers to help hold them up and to stop anymore falls onto passing traffic.

The cliff face fallen in the earthquake
Tiles missing from roof's

 It was also here we could see homes that had been shown to us on tv in the news etc.
The middle house fallen forward

Homes, where all their roof tiles had fallen down like a Lego home.

Parts of the house exposed

Homes still perched on the side of cliffs.

Half the house gone...

Houses with half of them missing as the other half had fallen down the cliffs.

Homes, where we could see inside because of the brokenness – people’s privacy exposed to the world.
...leaving it open for the world to see
More cliffs fallen. Top left house...
...has its' corner tiles missing

It was like seeing a ghost town in its making.

uneven road...everywhere

We could have gone on to see the streets of homes that still use porta-loos and have roads still not sealed properly. Those that still have one or two people still living in an otherwise empty street because they don’t want to leave or have nowhere to go.

But by this stage once again we felt a sickening for the people and needed to turn away from their plight, not because we wanted to ignore them, but because we hurt too much and did not know how to help them.

But we will constantly remind the rest of New Zealand what still happens in Christchurch.

And in time we had to say our goodbyes to Katrina, leaving her in the care of Callum and his family.

We drove home up the east coast making sure we could get to the ferry in Picton before it got dark as there were issues with the rear lights on the Wizard.

I managed a snap one of the may rail tunnels that run beside the road all the way up one stretch of highway. It’s quite interesting and it brought memories back of when I had travelled that way with my parents many, many years ago.

With plenty of time at the terminal we had a cuppa, before boarding the 10.25pm sailing of the Arahura Interislander.

Arriving in Wellington at 1.35am Friday morning, after a bit of a snooze in the ships lounge (well I did while Harry watched the cricket on a wide screen TV) we drove to my brothers for the welcomed sleep in a comfy bed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day 4 - Akaroa

It was now that we were starting to realise that we were now on our own. With Katrina doing things with Callum and getting her place organised Harry and I went off for a drive.

Neither of us had ever been out Banks Peninsula so we decided although the day was overcast and could almost rain we would go for a drive.

We set the GPS and left Christchurch, not before still driving down roads that were worse for wear after the earthquake, and buildings still condemned. It just seemed to be everywhere and I really don’t know how the people of Christchurch can cope with it all this time

The land was just as dry as the rest of New Zealand we had seen on our trip. The views would have been far more spectacular if the sun was shining the grass lush and green but we still were able to take in the views of the land and the Akaroa harbour as we came over the French Peak.

Before we reached the Akaroa harbour Harry wanted to check out a bit of off-roading. When the sign says “Four Wheel Drive Vehicles Only” that is like a red rag to a bull. However after a while it looked like we were just driving down someone’s farm back road or driveway so when we found a spot we could turn around in we made our way back onto the main road.

We stopped down in Barry’s Bay for a cuppa before making our way to Akaroa.

It’s hard to take photos of the town showing its character but it has a French heritage and still has many of the original buildings from the early settlement.

It was Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of the season of Lent for Easter and St Patricks the Catholic Church was open with the ashes in a bowl form the morning service. I went inside and applied them to my forehead as a sign of Christ in my life. 

After a walk around we went on up into the hills and down Light House Road.

We could see a cruise ship in the harbour. Since the earthquakes and the closure of Lyttelton Harbour these cruise ships come into Akaroa and take busloads of passengers in to Christchurch for day trips.

We took a left down Flea Bay Road and wound our way down another four wheel drive track to the bay. I'm not so used to going on Four wheel drive trips with Harry and the Club but these were really just like driving out the back of a farmers farm. Except with this you had no idea who else was out on the track and if you were going to meet someone coming up the other way and there seemed no where to pass!!

Flea Bay fortunately didn't live up to its name but It is supposed to be where little blue penguins can be seen but we didn’t see any. We did see a family in a van slowly make their way down the track as well.
Harry was really concerned as to whether they would be able to make their way back up again.

We made our way back up the road then we continued down Lighthouse Road as I was keen to see the lighthouse. We had to walk down the last part of the road as it was closed to traffic and I hadn't brought my walking shoes so it was a bit of a slow walk for me.

To our left we could look down into Haylocks Bay and the interesting show of waves pointing onto the rocks and a tunnel through the out-cliff that would take you around to Amphitheater Bay.

I was disappointed to find the light house just a light on a concrete tank. We could see the foundations of where the original lighthouse keepers house would have been and  on a day like this it would have seemed a lonely exsistance back in the day with no internet and probably no phone.

The views were exciting and the edge was pretty daunting as Harry and I both investigated. Google Maps
If you click on the above link and then copy and paste
 Lighthouse Road, Akaroa
into the search box on Google maps you can see the area and “zoom in” to where the light house is and see the cliff.

The weather seemed to be closing in and like all good things they must come to an end so we headed back to Akaroa and on to Christchurch where we met up with Katrina and Callum, having tea at McDonald's and visited Callum’s Dad and his family