Our drive was long but stunningly beautiful. Although the volcanoes and earthquakes on the south island of New Zealand have killed and disrupted cities and their communities…they also have created such beauty. We drove through some of the most beautiful valleys, massive mountains and lakes with teal blue water. We had to stop along the way to take pictures…this was truly like sitting inside a painting.
The drive to Christchurch was fairly long but we left early and arrived in the late afternoon. When we arrived we saw that the driveway to our hotel was being worked on and construction workers were fixing it. The reception told us due to the earthquake, it had made their driveway un-even with the street and it had to be re-paved. The reception gave us a map of the city and informed us we still couldn’t visit the center of the city…it was still in shambles from the earthquake 8 months ago.
We threw our things in the room and decided to take a walk around the city center to see exactly how bad things were. As we started our walk, we realized it was not only the main cathedral that had been damaged by the earthquake, but many buildings and sidewalks were still a complete mess. It looked like a ghost-town, like people just up and left the city. There were a few construction workers but many buildings were just damaged and shut down. It was actually quite sad to walk around looking at what use to be a vibrant city. We wondered why after 8 months…there was not more progress in picking up the pieces and putting them back together.
There were few places to choose from for dinner, but we decided on an Italian place and ordered pizza and salad to go. There didn’t seem to be too many people out…where did everyone go?
Back in our room we watched TV and munched on pizza. The news channel was covering the Rugby World Cup being hosted by New Zealand and how the prices were ridiculously inflated. We nodded our heads in agreement…we had a blast feeling the pulse of the country come alive for rugby…we could feel the passion for the game just walking down the street BUT the prices we felt were way over-priced. The hotels had doubled and tripled their prices knowing people going to one of the games would have no choice but to pay the prices. The beers were $12 for a pint…the sandwiches were $10…it was actually a big turn off for us. The country itself is beautiful but how can they charge so much? Even the locals were complaining about grocery store prices going up during the big games. It wasn’t just inflated in the city of Auckland but all over both islands. We think, if you make prices fair…people will return…but if you take too much from tourists, they won’t return to spend more money.
We set our alarm and got ready for bed, tomorrow we fly to Australia where we are hoping to see a kangaroo!