Tag Archives: christchurch

One Night in Sydney

After a fantastic two weeks navigating windy roads and waving to sheep, it was time to leave the beauty of New Zealand behind. Our super-cheap flight back to the States left from Sydney, so we planned one last night there. The only downside: our flight from Christchurch to Sydney left at 7:45am…which meant we had to wake up at 5:15am to make sure we had enough time to drive to the airport, drop the car off, and check in for an international flight. All went smoothly, but we were super tired when we landed after a three-hour flight.

So where did we lay our heads, you ask? Nowhere big…just the Four Seasons overlooking Circular Quay in Sydney. We kept debating where to stay in Sydney for just one night, and Mike realized he had enough credit card points to book a fancy hotel:

We Make Ourselves at Home Quite Quickly.

We Make Ourselves at Home Quite Quickly. Classy.

View from the Room. Kinda Cool Watching Traffic on Sydney Harbour Bridge.

View from the Room. Kinda Cool Watching Traffic on Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Slightly different than trying to drown out the sounds of a snorer in a hostel dorm room, yeah? Truth be told, however, we expected fancy extravagance from the hotel, and it was…just okay. The lobby and room were both fine but nothing special.

Our plan for that day was to sit by the pool and then nap. (We woke up super early. Don’t judge.) The sky was quite overcast, so we only sat by the pool for a bit. The nap came earlier (and lasted longer) than expected. We wandered around for a bit, grabbed burgers and fried pickles, and wandered around some more:

Bridge. Cruise Ship. Both Massive.

Bridge. Cruise Ship. Both Massive.

Amazing Sky.

Amazing Sky.

Because of the late lunch, we split chicken schnitzel parmigiana for dinner from the same pub where we watched some of the Super Bowl. Dessert was a huge lemon meringue pie slice. Long story short: food was the priority that day in Sydney.

After a great night’s sleep in an overly big king-size bed, the next day’s plan was to sit by the pool before leaving for the airport that afternoon. The weather, however, did not cooperate. Not much sun was spotted, and it drizzled for a bit. Not exactly the last day in Sydney we expected… We wandered, shopped for groceries, and grabbed some Japanese noodles for lunch. We also worked in some time for a photo shoot by the Opera House:

Mike Contemplating Life at the Opera House.

Mike Contemplating Life at the Opera House.

Textured.

Textured.

Hanna Lovin' Life.

Hanna Lovin’ Life.

Before we knew it, our time in Australia had to come to a close. We left for the airport around 3pm and tried to mentally prepare for our nine-and-a-half hour flight to Honolulu.

Sydney from the Airport. Last Photo Taken in Oz.

Sydney from the Airport. Last Photo Taken in Oz.

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Hey Paula!

One of Hanna’s most favorite things in all of Christchurch is located inside the Canterbury Museum. This museum has many areas: natural history (think giant stuffed animals behind glass), art, and cultural history. Hanna’s favorite part is tucked away in its own little spot.

Way back in the ancient twentieth century, a Kiwi couple named Fred and Myrtle Flutey lived in the southernmost town in the South Island. Fred would use paua shells (the shiny coverings of sea snails) as ashtrays and would then leave them all over the house, and this drove Myrtle crazy. She yelled at him to pick up the shells so she could vacuum. Fred’s solution? Nail them to the wall of their living room. The collection quickly grew, and the walls of the entire room were covered in shells. Word spread about their collection, and tourists would come to visit. Busloads arrived, and the Fluteys became Kiwi celebrities (clearly the Ice-T and Coco of their day).

After they passed away in the early 2000s, an exact recreation of their living room has been made in the Canterbury Museum…and Hanna cannot get enough of this sweet couple:

Paua House. Organ Music (Fred's Favorite) Plays as You Walk Through.

Paua House. Organ Music (Fred’s Favorite) Plays as You Walk Through.

We saw this exhibit three years ago, and Hanna would refer to the beautiful shells as “paula shells”. We have no idea why. Hanna’s one goal upon our return to New Zealand was to obtain a paula shell, and she is proud that Ms. Abdul is proudly in our backpack now.

Hanna and Paula. (No, Hanna Didn't Steal a Shell from the Wall.)

Hanna and Paula. (No, Hanna Didn’t Steal a Shell from the Wall.)

The Paua House wasn’t the only reason why we like the Canterbury Museum. They currently have an exhibition about street art:

Love the Random Staring Child.

Love the Random Staring Child.

Included in the exhibition are about twenty pieces by Banksy. Back in October 2013, Banksy took over the streets of New York and left a new piece of art somewhere in the city each day. We saw a few of them, but our favorite story goes as follows: a table was set up in Central Park with Banksy originals. No one really knew it was his art, so only a few pieces were sold. Two were bought by a Kiwi woman who was living in New York at the time, and she only paid US $60 for each one. These paintings are now worth about US $325,000 combined. She has lent them to the Canterbury Museum as part of the street art exhibition, so it was cool to feel a little piece of New York while in Christchurch:

If We Would Have Bought One Back in October, Maybe We Could Have Traveled Longer. Hindsight.

The Two Banksy Paintings on Sale in Central Park. If We Would Have Bought One Back in October, Maybe We Could Have Traveled Longer. Hindsight.

Banksy famously posted his own art in various museums around the world to see if people would notice. The Canterbury Museum took a cue from Banksy and placed things that shouldn’t be there in other permanent exhibits:

Mechanical Penguin.

Mechanical Penguin.

Hello (Waving) Kitty.

Hello (Waving) Kitty.

We Know: Crappy Picture. Somehow SpongeBob Snuck into an Underwater Diorama.

Somehow SpongeBob Snuck into an Underwater Diorama. (We Know, We Know. Crappy Picture.)

Julius Haast (Founder of the Canterbury Museum and the Namesake of Our Favorite Kiwi Town) Was Somehow Able to Log on to Facebook in the Nineteenth Century.

Julius Haast (Founder of the Canterbury Museum and the Namesake of Our Favorite Kiwi Town) Was Somehow Able to Log on to Facebook in the Nineteenth Century.

We had a ball searching high and low for these aberrations. One weekend the museum hid 36 tokens in the adjacent gardens, and if you found one, you would win an original piece of art by a local street artist. Very cool indeed. We were bummed to find out that this took place the previous weekend…because you KNOW we would be all over that shit.

CHCH

Our last stop in New Zealand was the first city we saw on our previous trip: Christchurch. We were driving to Auckland when a major earthquake struck Christchurch in February 2011. We have seen pictures of the massive damage, but we weren’t sure what to expect upon coming here for the first time since the quake.

Truth be told: it’s heartbreaking. The center city feels like a construction zone and ghost town. Many streets are closed as road crews repair streets. Many buildings are boarded up and left inhabited. Entire buildings are just gone. Granted we have only been to Christchurch once before, we can only imagine how it must feel for locals to see their city destroyed:

Damage.

Damage.

Right in the Center City.

Right in the Center City.

With devastation, however, comes rebuilding, and Christchurch has done an absolutely amazing job at this restart. Public art dots the city, and Re:START Mall (shops in large shipping containers) replace destroyed stores:

Such a Unique Shopping Area Which Brings a Modern Touch to an Area of Devastation.

Such a Unique Shopping Area Which Brings a Modern Touch to an Area of Devastation.

The Christchurch Cathedral is a symbol of the city and survived many prior earthquakes, but unfortunately a lot of it didn’t survive after the February 2011 quake:

January 2011: Christchurch Cathedral.

January 2011: Christchurch Cathedral.

March 2014: Christchurch Cathedral.

March 2014: Christchurch Cathedral.

Most buildings surrounding the cathedral have collapsed or are considered condemned. We knew that the cathedral was heavily damaged, but we had no idea how much damage was done to its surroundings. We couldn’t quite wrap our heads around the devastation and that this was a place we had been before. Unreal.

Since the cathedral is unable to be used for services, a temporary cathedral has been built nearby. Created by a Japanese architect, this church is made mostly of cardboard tubes, wood, and steel, and it’s been built to sustain earthquakes:

Cardboard Cathedral.

Cardboard Cathedral.

Cardboard Tube Beams.

Cardboard Tube Beams.

Across the street from the Cardboard Cathedral is a remembrance of the 185 people that lost their lives in the February 2011 earthquake. 185 white chairs (each one different, each one unique) hold a single flower, and viewers are encouraged to sit in the chairs to remember the victims:

White Chairs.

White Chairs.

A Sea of White Across from the Cardboard Cathedral.

A Sea of White Across from the Cardboard Cathedral.

When we were here three years ago, Christchurch was trying to back on its feet from earthquakes in 2010. There was visible destruction in certain areas, but there was still a vivacious feeling in the center city area. It now feels almost like a war zone in parts. Whole blocks are gone or destroyed, waiting for their turn to be fixed. Our hearts really go out to the citizens of Christchurch because almost everywhere you look is a reminder of destruction.

Here’s to You, Christchurch.

Here’s to You, Christchurch.

Game Plan for New Zealand

We’re now kinda sorta back to real time again on the blog. We left the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday and flew to Christchurch. We luckily got bumped up to an exit row of three seats: Mike on the aisle, Hanna in the middle, and a random thirtysomething Kiwi guy by the window. What should have been an easy three hour flight in which Hanna got some shuteye was anything but.  Kiwi guy sat spread eagle the whole flight (granted he was quite tall) and fell asleep immediately. He breathed through his mouth, took up the whole armrest, and inched his entire right leg into Hanna’s space.  Seriously his entire leg took up half of Hanna’s foot space. Needless to say, Hanna audibly sighed a lot, muttered bitchy comments, and took up half of Mike’s space. Awesome.

We have two weeks on the South Island of New Zealand, and boy, are we ready to drive. On our last trip, we took our time going down the East Coast only to be derailed by Hanna’s pneumonia. We had basically a week to speed up the West Coast, so on this trip, we will attempt to see what we sped by last time.

Our Chariot. It’s a Toyota Vitz, But Mike Keeps Forgetting and Calling It a Yitz.

Our Chariot. It’s a Toyota Vitz, But Mike Keeps Forgetting and Calling It a Yitz.

Our goals this time around? Discovering the beauty of Milford Sound on a cruise, doing some sort of adventure in Queenstown, actually seeing more of the glaciers, relaxing in thermal springs, swimming with wild dolphins (Mike only…Hanna’s worried about getting seasick on the ride out), and seeing more sheep. We won’t have WiFi everywhere we go, so posting might be sporadic. We shall see.

Our first drive from Christchurch down to Dunedin included a stop at a cookie factory:

Huge Bag of Broken Cookies for NZ $6.50 (About US $5.40).

Huge Bag of Broken Cookies for NZ $6.50 (About US $5.40).

Hanna Enjoying Said Cookies in the Yitz.

Hanna Enjoying Said Cookies in the Yitz.

Off to a good start, right?

Our Last City in New Zealand

Our whirlwind trip of the North Island came to an end in Auckland. It was as we were driving there that we heard about the devastating earthquake in Christchurch on the radio. We are sad to see how many people are still missing and how the death toll keeps rising. We won’t soon forget about this horrible natural disaster.

Not much to say about Auckland. Before we actually visited the city ourselves, everyone we met who had been there had a lukewarm reaction to it and said it was just like any other big city. Sure, parts of it were pretty, but we kinda see what people mean. We didn’t love it, but we didn’t hate it. If we had more time to explore it, maybe our opinion would change.

We drove around the city, and Hanna talked Mike into ordering Pizza Hut. That’s about all we did in Auckland. Obviously we did not take any pictures. We are in a recovery program for this egregious error and hope to better ourselves soon.

Another Earthquake

We’re safe.

All of our faithful readers (the whole three of you) have probably heard that there was another earthquake near Christchurch today around 1pm our time. While the 6.3 magnitude was a bit less than the one in September, this earthquake did massive damage and will probably turn out to be much worse than last year’s.

An indefinite number of people are dead so far, and there are hundreds of injuries. Cathedral Square is the heart of the city, and unfortunately parts of the cathedral were destroyed. The city as a whole has many damaged buildings, and it will probably take it a very long time to recover. It’s been crazy watching the non-stop news coverage and seeing a city we were just in a month ago.

We’re in Auckland now. Luckily we’re nowhere near Christchurch. We’re here for a few days and then head back to Australia for a couple weeks.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people suffering through the damage right now.

Frank

Meet Frank:

Our New BFF. He Even Has a Nametag.

We adopted this green guy from an outdoors store in Christchurch. He was the floor model, and he is beautiful. He was ours for the low low low price of US $53. We expected to pay a lot more, so we were totally satisfied with the cost. He packs up small enough that we hope to bring him home to the States.