I stay in Christchurch from Friday 6th of December until late afternoon on Monday 9th of December. Here follows some of the highlights.
I book a full-day tour to Edoras, which is the capital of Rohan from LOTR: The Two Towers. It took 9 months to build this city, and in the movie the scenes are less than 20min. We have a very good guide, Kris, who is driving us in a large 4WD vehicle build for such tours. Midway he is informed that the heavy rain has damaged a bridge just 5km from Edoras – but we anyways decide to continue and experience as much as possible. There are many nice landscapes on the tour, but the camera stays for a large part in the pocket – not easy to take photos through windows. 10km from Edoras the road is completely flooded, and Kris decides that it’s not safe to cross – we all agree. We drive to a nearby town where we are welcomed to borrow a city hall where we have lunch, sparkling wine, and cake – quite good. We also get to ‘play’ and have photos taken of the different replica swords from LOTR. Although we did not get to Edoras, it was anyways a good journey and day – and got even better when we all got a full refund.
In the evening I go to the local Casino. Quite a lot of Japanese people – and when the large TVs are showing some unknown Japanese playing tennis – one knows who the clientele are. I have dinner, and else just walk around – spending 10 dollars in a slot machine where I never get to understand the logics of the game. Being an Engineer, I have to visit a pub of same name. There’s a private party, and else nothing to reflect the name.
As a souvenir I have kept all the different brochures from the places I have been. My luggage was already at the 25kg target (and electronics overweight in a separate carry-on), and on my next flight I can only have 23kg. In order not to get issues in the airport, and since it would anyways be difficult to find room in my suitcase, I send a package of 5kg to my home address in Denmark – at a price of 70 euro! Anyways, next time I would not fill my suitcase to the very limit – first of all I never got to use all the clothes, and it makes it complicated to buy gifts and souveniers.
I walk by the memorial for the many people who died in the earthquakes. First at the river and park near the city center and next the 185 empty white chairs of all kind of shapes and brands. I also walk by the church made of cardboard, but there is a ceremony, so I just keep outside.
For the last action adventure – I go for the zip lines. There’s a total of 4 lines with a nice view to the city. We take a ski-lift up to the top of the hill, fully equipped with all gear. The ride is roughly 1.8km with an increased elevation of 500m. There are also many people taking the lift up for driving down-hill on mountain bikes – it also looks quite fun. The first two lines are to familiarize with the procedures and else just to enjoy the ride – one instructor is attaching us at the start-point and another is helping us down when we get to the end-point. It’s quite nice and steady with two lines next to each other, separated by 3-4m so when launched next to each other we can have a small race of who to reach the end-point first. Being more heavy (and aerodynamically shaped?) than others, I have a clear advantage. Being launched next to small ladies from Taiwan they get up to 10s head start, and I can anyways reach the end-point first. The 3rd line is quite long, and brings us over a valley 150m above ground – really cool. At these altitudes and speed you do not get to worry about eventual fear of height – actually I think it could help cure many (or reduce their fear) to try such zip-line. It feels very safe, and when you first are off – you can anyways not do anything but wait. The last line is 1100m long soaring above the treetops – the longest in New Zealand and the southern hemisphere (in Dubai they have a longer one). On this line, one of the instructors have previously reached 120km/h – but it does not feel too quick or unsafe (besides eyes running in water). For the record, I should have brought something to securely attach my phone to a wrist or neck – it’s not allowed or suited to hold in your hand (which I can understand due to the high meeting wind velocity).
For breakfast (a café in sunshine since the hotel is not anything special) I speak with an elderly Danish couple. They have apparently not been as lucky with the weather on their drive around the southern island. Due to all the rain some of the primary roads are closed separating the southern island in two. This has apparently been the case for the last several days. In a few days they are going to Sydney, but here there are announcements of smoke from nearby fire.
I visit the national gallery on my last day before going to the airport. Besides a few displayed items it’s all too modern for me, and I have seen the large museum in less than 30min.
The last part of my vacation is a short stay in Melbourne and a drive along the Great Ocean Road – I have previously had a short stay in Cains and Sydney, so now went for a different part of Australia when I’m anyway ‘close’. I’m welcomed on my flight to Melbourne by a heart formed sky. I’m lucky to stay at an old friend, Jonas from the University, and his family, now living in Melbourne.