Having had our plans of taking the train up the East coast to Kaikoura and then Blenheim scuppered due to the recent earthquake in Kaikoura we flew to Blenheim and then headed to Nelson. It’s been a few years since I have been here but not much has changed – this is fine by me. Highlight from my perspective was seeing the art/fashion from the 2016 WOW (World of Wearable Art Show held in Wellington but originally held in Nelson – now there is a museum housing past outfits). If you’ve never been to the actual event – make sure you visit Wellington when it is on – it is always sold out and deservedly so.
Here are some examples of what you would see but you also have to imagine it on a huge stage with lots of things to look at and amazing music – it is one of the best things I’ve ever seen (twice).
2016 WOW Winners – Art and Fashion come together brilliantly
I first came to visit Christchurch on a long weekend a couple of years before the earthquake of February 2011. I then visited about two weeks after that dramatic event with the head of HR NZ Felicity to visit staff impacted; then again a couple of years after that and now three years later. It has been an incredible experience to see what is going on here.
It is a city severely impacted and affected by what happened in 2011 but not defined by it. It is a credit to human optimism and resilience to see what has taken place over the past 6 years. 70% of the CBD buildings had to be or will be demolished; they are spending an estimated NZD 100 million each week in construction and would do more but lack enough workers even though many have come over from Ireland, the Philippines and China to assist.I am not sure where all the money is coming from but this is a city in transition from a traditional style quasi 1950’s England oriented town to a vibrant modern city filled with street art (even Rome from Melbourne has painted a massive wall), container malls, a “cardboard Cathedral” built by a post earthquake expert architect from Japan and a vision for a bright future which will see more and more visitors arrive. I think, that like Napier in the 30’s, it will totally reinvent itself and thrive for years to come.Of course it is not all perfect – (there is still an ongoing debate and squabbling about the famous city centre cathedral (now deconsecrated) – “pull it down or spend squillions restoring it”?) – I know what I’d do – but generally I have been overwhelmed by how cool it is here and I have diarised to visit again in 5 years’ time.
Also proud to see that ANZ Centre is close to being finalised and the ANZ branch is about as funky and cool as I’ve seen – and I’ve seen a few!
Art Deco Regent Street; 185 chairs memorial to those who died in the earthquake and new art to enhance a city being rebuilt.
Cardboard Cathedral, the new art gallery, Restart Mall, destruction and fun art – all in one place
Christchurch Botanical Gardens might be even better than Kew?
Once again I went in search of whales and dolphins. What did I see – 4 dolphins and a spray of water in the distance that I was assured was a whale. Hmmmm. The lady who took us out kept talking about the number of times she has seen 200 dolphins swimming together and that they must have decided to take a short holiday! Yeah right –
I think it is me as I am never lucky with either dolphin or whale watching but I remain optimistic and keep on trying. Surely one day…..
Had much more success with my walk to the Treaty Ground where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed giving human and land rights to all the local population. It continues to be a living document and is often debated as apparently part of it is open to interpretation – especially as some of the Maori signed an English translation rather than the version in local language and of course they are not exactly the same. Also got to see a cultural show while there – pretty lively.
Traditional canoes(longest in the world), The carved house and a bit of a “wow” entry to a private home
Cultural show, a 1/3 scale model of the Endevour and a very friendly duck – and of course ducks were there right at the start of my trip to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis! And that little White House – is part of the “hell hole”!
I also braved the 15 minute ferry to a place which was once described at the “hell hole of the Pacific” due to its success as a trading post and the inevitable pleasures that came with that status. Even Charles Darwin visited and helped fund a church as it was such a dreadful place – which is quite funny given his subsequent theories did not make him popular with the church. Nowadays it is known as Russell and is a sleepy and cute town with 1000 local residents and is mostly famed for the Duke of Marlborough hotel and pub as it was the first officially licensed bar in New Zealand – so it seemed only reasonable that I should have a drink there – which I did together with dinner with some Americans who live there 6 months of the year. One of them, Toni was on my flight from LA to Auckland and I helped her put her luggage in the storage area above her head as she was by her own admission “vertically challenged”. Turned out she was going on to Keri Keri so her husband dropped me off at my hotel and then they invited me over to Russell for dinner – sometimes a good deed gets its rewards. They were delightful people too and love NZ.
And here’s my final pic from NZ with my new friends – note the warrior effects in first photo and the smilies in the second – great group.
Me and the Maori performers at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Always good to end a long trip with chill time and Paihia is certainly that (thanks Fliss for the recommendation). This area is called Northland given it is the north of the north island:). These pics just give you a flavor on what greeted me on my first evening there – laid back, beautiful afternoon and evening, 5 minutes walk from where I was staying. Nothing to do except drink local wine, eat local oysters, eat ice cream