Talking with the various B&B hosts that we’ve encountered along our journey it’s clear that if we are travelling between September and early December then it’s really not necessary to book accommodation in advance. That’s a big learning for next time as I suspect we could have added quite a lot of flexibility to our trip and potentially saved ourselves some money for relatively little additional hassle.
As we come to the end of our trip overall and our tour of the South Island in particular, we’ve had less good weather than we had on the north although I suspect we have to expect that. Most of the locals are so happy for the rain that’s hit us the last couple of days although we are (rather selfishly) not as happy. That’s life.
Prior to the trip we had (loosely) planned to walk the Kaikoura peninsula walkway which is 12km in total although probably only about 4-5km is actually really worth walking (the remainder tracks the inland areas where there is relatively little to see). We had seen part of the track last night so rather than walk the whole thing we decided this morning to just look at the southern end which starts from the beach on the southern end of town and then climbs quite steeply around the coastline. Initially the track is paved or boarded so while it’s steep it is pretty easily accessible. From the top of the cliff there is a steep staircase / track down to the edge of the seal colony and the main bird nesting area. It’s quite a sight both visually and aromatically (as hundreds of seagulls in one place mean lots of noise and lots of bird poo!). If we were coming to New Zealand again to see wildlife then Kaikoura would be near the top of our list and we would probably avoid some of the other trips.
Christchurch is around two and a half hours south of Kaikoura so we only arrived early afternoon. We didn’t have a specific plan to visit the city but we decided to spend the afternoon checking out the central area. It’s been three years since the earthquake which killed 185 people in the (mostly old buildings) in the city and while there is a lot of rebuilding going on the central city area is still quite shocking in that it looks like a wasteland of boarded buildings waiting to be demolished and vacant lots where building have been demolished and rubble has been cleared. Without wishing to sound superficial, there’s actually very little to see in the city center as it was the historic building which bore the brunt of the earthquake. We visited the Quake City museum which documents the history (or earthquakes in the area), the events surrounding the quake and the aftermath (well worth a visit). We also visited ‘container city’ which now houses the city’s central retail area. The one shining light coming out of the disaster for Christchurch is that the town planners have now had the advantage to create template for a new modern city and I am sure that 10 years from now Christchurch will be a jewel in New Zealand’s crown but in the meantime there is a lot of work to do.
We are staying outside the town in Pacific View Paradise view B&B which has the most awesome view of the city which seems a fitting way to end our day.