Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We visit Christchurch

 We visited the city of Christchurch, which was very badly damaged by two large and thousands of small earthquakes over the past few years. We stayed in Christchurch, and visited the centre of the city that was so badly damaged. It was very moving and emotional. So many of the buildings are unable to be used, and are cordoned off, and many of them have stickers on the windows to keep people out of unsafe buildings. On many buildings there are signs of the original search for survivors that was conducted after the second big quake.
We haven't got any photos of us with these buildings, it would have felt like we were trespassing on the grief of the people who live there, and disrespectful to those who died.
But even though so many buildings are damaged, and the sound of demolition is constant, and there are lots of empty gaps where buildings used to be, there is so much hope and innovation in Christchurch. Here are photos of us at the ReStart Mall, which is an inner city shopping mall which is entirely constructed from shipping containers. This area is bright and hopeful. We shared a coffee in the red building you can see, it's a cafe where the upstairs floor has bean bags to sit. There are lots more innovations, like using an empty block where a building was demolished as a soccer pitch, or putting an old commercial refrigerator on a corner, which is now used as an informal book lending library.
So many areas of the city are still very unstable, and shipping containers have been put to use as barriers along cliff roads to protect houses and cars from rockfall.
 Many artists and communities have created murals to make these very industrial containers look wonderful.
 One community project was to make a cozy for a container from knitted and crocheted squares. People from around the world sent squares to be sewn together, to make the container look bright and colourful, and to soften a hard surface, and to offer comfort and warmth. It is a glorious thing to see.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Views from the road in New Szeland

 This is the camper we are traveling in for two weeks. It has enough room for 6 people and 2 small backpackers to sleep and live comfortably.
 Mountains, paddocks of sheep. A typical and glorious view in New Zealand.

Friday, January 25, 2013

We are at Kiakoura beach

 Here we are at Kiakoura, which is on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. You can't see them in the photo, but we were having lunch with our family and watching a pair of dolphins playing in the sea  
The beach is pebbly and smooth. From here we could see mountains with snow on top, even in midsummer.
A little way further along the coast there is a seal colony. If you look really carefully you might be able to see a seal sunning on the rock behind us. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We visited two glaciers on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand

 The rocks we are sitting on have been washed down the mountain by the glacier and its river.

Today we visited two glaciers on the west coast of the South Island of NZ. They are quite near the coast, and are formed on high mountains. This is a photo of us in front of Franz Josef Glacier. It looks quite far away, we were about 1km from the bottom of the glacier.

There are so many beautiful waterfalls in this part of the world, the mountains catch a lot of rain.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

We visit Kaikoura

 We camped by a beach, look at this sunset.
 We drove past some huge salt pans, where sea water is evaporated and the salt is harvested. These salt hills were huge.
 Even though it is the middle of summer in New Zealand, we can still see snow on some of the mountains.
This is us visiting a waterfall and a pool. In the middle of summer there weren't any seal pups, but in the winter months there are often more than a hundred seal pups swimming here. They leave their mothers for a few days at a time, and climb up a creek to this pond where they play and socialise with other seal pups, then head back to feed with their mothers.

Monday, January 21, 2013

We are on holidays

We found a cafe with a map of the world, it doesn't look like the map we are used to seeing, New Zealand is on top of the world!
Visitors are invited to stick a pin into the map to mark where thy come from. We put a pin in Stendal, Germany.
It is the middle of summer here. We will make sure to wear our hats always, the sun is fierce. Sunburned feet, ouch.

Friday, January 18, 2013

We cross the Cook Strait

Our host family is going on holidays to the South Island of New Zealand and we are going too!
Here we are at the ferry terminal in Wellington with our back packs on, ready to board the ship.
This is our ship!
It is a rainy, windy day and the sea is looking a bit rough...
Bye, Wellington. We will see you in a few weeks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We have a picnic on the beach

  It is the middle if summer in New Zealand, and it was a perfect day to eat an evening meal at the beach.
 This is Oriental Bay on Wellington Harbour. The sand here is golden, but that's a bit misleading because we heard that they import the sand to this beach. Sand on other parts of Wellington Harbour is either pebbles, or dark grey sand.
Cherries and other stone fruits are in season here, and so delicious.

Monday, January 14, 2013

We visit Te Papa

Our family took us to Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum.  
There were some enormous troll sculptures from "The Hobbit", they looked so scary!
At Te Papa we also saw a huge gingerbread house. Much too big for us. We preferred the gingerbread house we shared at Christmas time.
The kids in our family told us that their favourite exhibit in the whole museum is this colossal squid. It was found in Antarctic waters, and it is the only colossal squid on display in any museum in the world. It's eyeballs are the size of soccer balls. We are really glad that it is under glass.

Monday, January 7, 2013

We visit the Wellington Airport

Wellington airport is an international airport, but small and very relaxed!
 Weta Workshops created and installed an enormous Gollum at Wellington Airport for the world premiere of The Hobbit. It's huge and a bit creepy and wonderful. We're glad he has a fish to catch, and won't be interested in tiny backpackers like us!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

We went for picking berries...

Today we went picking berries from a local orchard.
This is a local tradition in Napier, where there are lots of orchards with gorgeous summer fruits, strawberries, raspberries, apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines.
Here we are in the trays that the pickers use.
"Hans, where are you?"

These berries are so good, we couldn't help ourselves, we had to dive in to the bowl.
Some in the bowl, some in our mouths. Yum!

"Paul, stop eating them all and come and help me!"