Everyone except Zo is getting a bit tired of the camper, and we’re now wrapping up the 9.5 week NZ country tour with a visit to Christchurch- our last and final city. Some minor unfortunate events can be overlooked mid journey but as you come closer to the end these things become a little more annoying. Such as running out of propane in the night (first time on the trip i might add) at 5am. I noticed it was chilly, got up to pee and then covered baby with a spare sleep sac before crawling back into bed for another sleepless hour until she cooed me awake at 6. Lucky for us it wasn’t a really chilly night.
The very next day on our way to Christchurch we smelled the unmistakeable odour of strong urine, and upon further investigation (yes, while driving) I made frequent trips to the back to check on, mop up and basically contain the leaking fluids coming from under the bathroom door. Turns out that a piece of TP was stuck in the cassette toilet flap allowing 100% concentrated yuck to flow out and down the floor and up to the front. A pure hazmat disaster, or so we treated it as so. We sopped up about 4 bath towels worth of seepage and took it directly to the laundry upon arrival. I was just about required to use the pillow cases! It was dinner time when we arrived at the campground but all food prep was on hold for decontamination purposes. The rest of the evening was a gong show of repeatedly checking loads of laundry, moping the floor, rescuing and washing any toys that were possibly in contact and finally feeding everyone what was left in the fridge.
The day after that the inverter crapped out meaning we can’t charge electronics while we drive, which I realize is a first world problem, but when the phone doesn’t play movies the toddler gets loud, the baby wakes up and everyone is angry. Josh tracked down a faulty negative ground connection, crises averted.
Anyway, on to the travel part of the story…. Back in September of 2010 Christchurch had a fairly large earthquake and less than six months later the inner city was hit with a very heavy magnitude and near to the surface aftershock quake around lunch time which was absolutely devastating to the city. 185 people were killed, half of all the buildings in the core were affected, and thousands of homes destroyed. Water and sewer took years to restore due to seeping muck that was brought up under the surface. After driving through the city before doing research on dates, we were shocked to hear it was SIX years ago already. You could walk to any corner in the city’s core and only have one building on it, the other three would be a makeshift car park, a building in the process of building or still in full on demolition. For a city teeming with historical buildings it was pretty emotional for us just to walk through. I can’t imagine the shock and awe, the destruction, or the emotion of the people here on the day it happened. The city itself was built around its magnificent cathedral, which now lies behind massive safety fencing, with braces and scaffolding holding together what remains of its shell. Currently there is much controversy over whether to repair or destroy and rebuild the iconic piece of history.
We did get a sense that the city is trying to pull up its socks, lift its chin, and come together with evidence of restoring memories and re-creating the future. With brand new classy buildings, construction on every corner and colourful artworks, planters and positive messages scattering the streets it would seem spirits are lifting along with it’s regrowth.
We enjoyed the tram trolley tour in the misty rain, hoping to gain some more insight from the motorman’s commentary while getting a rest for our tired feet and sore backs. The museums are free again, and we spent our first afternoon playing in the exhibit for the 75th anniversary of Air New Zealand complete with two airplane cabins from various era’s, program for designing your own plane logo, learning the cockpit controls, and watching a video on the 90 minutes leading up to a flight (fast forwarded and shortened to 3 minutes- Ry loved it).
We also visited the re-START outdoor mall which is a series of shipping containers colourfully put together into make shift and temporary shops. We tried out the tiki taco hut for lunch, before finding a barber to trim Josh’s shaggy locks. A city visit wouldn’t be complete without a playground visit, and a walk through some botanical gardens as well.
We drop off the camper van in a couple days, then its onto Australia. Rylie can’t wait, she’s excited for another plane ride. We’re just happy to be moving into a condo : )