New Zealand 2005
A cold day in Christchurch
04 May 2005
Well, here I am across the Tasman in New Zealand. After leaving work in Sydney and waiting around for something to do, I've now got literally hundreds of things to do (according to my guidebook). The flight over was fine, I managed to get an entire row to myself after moving seats. I was glad I did too, because when we started flying over the Western coast of the South Island the views were amazing. At first I thought there were low clouds along the coastline, like you see sometimes when you're flying about - but when we got nearer I could see that they were snow-capped mountains. The Southern Alps pretty much run the length of the South Island's West coast, plunging into the sea on one side and giving way to farmland on the other. But seen from the air, they look incredible - massive jagged peaks with glaciers pushing away down the slopes. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen from a plane. After we landed, I got a bus into the city centre to wait for Julie who's given up her living room floor for two days. I liked Christchurch immediately - I think in part because it's so cold over here, coming from the Australian 'autumn' it really seems like I'm in another country.
Glancing at the weather forecast on a TV through the window of an electronics shop, I found out it was 10C in Christchurch today - boy do you feel that after six months of Australian weather. When I left Sydney it was 25C and almost starting 'winter'. Here it's only autumn and already as cold as the UK. I'm definately a cold-weather person, today was a glorious crisp day - sunny, cold and still. In fact it was so nice I immediately abandoned my plan of wandering the city and went out on a bus to the Mount Cavendish cable car to see what the views were like. Well, they were stupendous. You could see all the way to the Alps I flew over yesterday, the Pacific Ocean, and down into the next valley. There was hardly anybody around, so I walked along the ridge for a bit and had something to eat. The wind was whipping over the summit, but to me the cold was such a novelty it didn't bother me at all.
Back in the city I walked around, looking at the various parts of Christchurch. It's about the size of Edinburgh, and has an interesting mixed feel to it. It really feels like an English city, with the street names (Gloucester, Hereford, Oxford, Cambridge Streets), and the punting on the river (the Avon) - but to me it looks like an American city - the wooden clapboard houses with white fences, the rigid block street system, an outer ring of malls and fast food chains. Plus of course all the trees are turning that impressive New Englandy red/orange colour. It's a cheerful place, everyone seems friendly, tourists are well catered for. I'm not sure what the weather's doing tomorrow, but hopefully it'll be nice enough for me to go along the coast and pay a visit to a little piece of France in the New World...
Locations Visited: Christchurch