Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Winter Escape 2012: Christchurch, New Zealand & Reflections on NZ

Red Zone in Christchurch 

Christchurch is in a state of demolition or restoration. As we walked about we noticed many areas were blocked off. We could not get a glimpse of Cathedral Square. Instead we saw demolition cranes in the process of restoring the area which is identified as the Red Zone.

Street with Container Shops and Cafes 

We walked along streets that once housed thriving buildings but are now reduced to container type shops and offices. It is a temporary fixture as Christchurch continues to re-build. It appears to be an extremely slow process. This area has an eerie feel to it as people stop, look at what is now, and appear to have whispered conversations of what it was. It feels like walking through a cemetery of buildings. The silence envelops the surroundings.

Scene of a church in the midst of restoration

We walk around the Botanic Gardens which has had no earthquake impact. It is serenely beautiful to enjoy this part of Christchurch. We left Christchurch feeling very sad as it appears to be coming back to life very slowly but surely.

Reflections on New Zealand
Silver/Green Fern - National Symbol of NZ 

As we toured both islands of New Zealand we come away with a sense of enormous natural beauty that makes up the two islands. The past and current volcanic activity have created and continues to re-shape the landscape that is unique to New Zealand.

During the two weeks of March that we were there, the weather varied from cool to sunny to foggy/misty to rainy. It is the beginning of the autumn season; it is quite unusual to read about autumn festivals to celebrate the Easter holiday while we in the northern hemisphere are used to Easter as a spring time holiday.

NZ has a population of 4 million with 35 million sheep and 15 million cattle. We learned that most of the good quality meats are exported while the locals have to contend with what is left over. The cost of living is very high. Tourism is vitally important for NZ. Hence all and any kind of activity--including those of the extreme kind, are heavily promoted as one travels through both islands. It is a country of amazing vistas that are imprinted in our memory.

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