11. North Canterbury

Hanmer Springs and the Celebratory Fry Up

Hanmer Springs and the Celebratory Fry Up

Christchurch Earthquake

Christchurch Earthquake on TV

NickyWe’re both completely fine. We felt it though. Such a bizarre sensation. We’re 80 miles away, and so luckily there’s no damage here in Hanmer Springs. Initially I wrote this description when I imagined it was only a very small local event. I had no idea we were feeling the edge of the huge quake in Christchurch.

I was outside on the decking in the motel writing for the blog. I thought I felt someone stomping on the decking and wobbling my screen. Pissed off I grumpily looked up to see no one there. The doors behind me were rattling, and my chair was shaking a bit. Confused I thought for an instant that Cookie was mucking about wobbling the chair to scare me then I realised the chair was against the motel wall and the whole thing was wobbling. I stood up and the floor was going side to side a bit like the sensation of being on a boat. 

Cookie popped his head out, “is this a..?” “Yeh! Earthquake!”

Felt bloody weird!! :) We’re ok though. All fine here. You get occasional very very subtle wobbles 2 or 3 times and hour. Feels a bit like someone turning over in bed next to you. But nothin bad. 

We were in the supermarket when one went off. Looking down the aisle at the shelving units as they tilted alternately back and forth was very odd! It makes you think you’re seeing things. I was trying to grab a can of olives at the time and they slipped out of my grip. It sounds more dramatic than it was though. It was extremely subtle here. Just a strange experience.

We turned the tv on and saw the live footage of the aftershocks that brought more of the cathedral down., and it started to sink in what was actually happening. Very distressed people recounting how they’d just seen facades of numerous buildings collapse in front of them on top of screaming people outside in the street. Terrible, horrific stories. It’s hard to imagine that this was all happening live and just down the road.

We’re hoping to hear about some hiker friends, Michael and Elna, who were in the mountains in the last section of trail. They were going back to Christchurch, probably yesterday (22nd). Hoping they were running late and were still in the mountains.

Also – a very lovely young couple who gave us a ride from the end of the trail in Boyle village, who were driving back from Nelson to Christchurch after a friends wedding. Watching the news, i just hope they are alright. There are such awful images on the tv… The complete devastation. But also stories of heroism, hope, and survival. The resilience of the people here is incredible.

I’m watching right now as they are still finding people alive in multistory buildings that have been totally and utterly flattened. It’s pretty astounding. Hopefully as communications are restored many more people listed as missing will be able to be reunited with their families.

So glad we are several days behind our original schedule, as we’d planned to visit Christchurch these last few days. So thankful I am such a slow-coach hiker!

Hope Valley ‘Halfway Hut’

Hope Valley 'Halfway Hut' 

NickySo we set off from Hanmer to hitch back to the trail. Catching two lifts – two couples picked us up – both had been in the earthquake, and both were heading out of Christchurch. But both couples, while escaping an earthquake zone were still lovely enough to decide to pull over and help two strangers standing by the edge of the road. How wonderful is that? This seems the ultimate example of the generosity and selflessness we’ve experienced from people in New Zealand.

The first couple were in a central park when cracks appeared beneath their feet, and the trees began to fall around them. The second couple were leaving their damaged house behind with a car of salvaged possessions, unsure if they’d ever be able to go inside again. The girl was a teacher at a local school with her classroom of small children when the quake struck. Imagine trying to protect all the kids. Absolutely awful! And yet both couples seemed cheerful, and expressed feelings of being thankful or lucky. Pretty humbling. And even though petrol has run dry across the region the last couple insisted on dropping us all the way to the very start of the trail. What amazing people.

Above, is our first pit stop for the day, to sign into the log book in the ancient hut! Looks quite cute in the clearing don’t you think? :)

Easy Flat Stuff

Nicky Walking in Meadow

Hope-Kiwi Lodge

Hope-Kiwi Lodge

Bog ‘Bridge’, well half-a-bridge..

Bog 'Bridge', well half a bridge..

Mossy Mammoths

Mossy Mammoths

NickyThere are some huge trees in this forest. And I guess you don’t get to be their age without being battered by a few biblical storms. There’s always a few blowdowns to climb over, around, under, or through. But here they are of a different magnitude altogether. This guy looks like he’s been sleeping a fair old while though, being slowly absorbed into the fabric of the landscape. Thanks to whoever hacked a path straight through this giant! That musta been hard graft.

Cute Toadstool

Don't Step on the Cute Toadstool

NickyYey! Not seen one as perfect as this since the Queen Charlotte track at the top of South Island. He’s gotta cheeky smile on him, half tempted to draw his eyes in ;) Sometimes you see toadstools gnawed away on top. All I can imagine is there must be some seriously swirly-eyed possums dancin’ ’bout the forest on a Friday night. No wonder they make those bloody crazy cackling noises!

Strung Up Bunnies :(

Hare Skeletons

NickyThis was a particularly sad and gruesome sight to be greeted with on coming out of the forest into the pasture flats of the valley. Two Hares stung up by their feet and left to decompose :( Not even sure if they were dead when they were put up. Very sad. 

People call them pests – but I can’t imagine what damage a ‘big rabbit’ is going to do to a cow? It’s a great way to scare the tourists off anyway! A gross and unnecessary display.