With a mixture of reluctance and relief we spent our last night in Kyoto, Japan. A fond farewell to Nijo-jo a night’s sleep and we were ready to begin our adventure to New Zealand. The overnight flight was comfortable and we were well cared for on Thai Airlines. After arrival, we spent the day recuperating and honestly, didn’t have a chance to see much of the city. There are numerous cultural and natural activities that are well worth the time to see but for us, this was a brief stop before continuing our journey.
The following day, we departed via bus trip to Queenstown. The Inter-City bus line is actually a lovely way to travel for longer distances. It gives you an excellent chance to soak up the scenery without having to concentrate on the road. Our driver was delightfully talkative and kept up a running commentary on the sites and countryside as we passed through. We picked up the bus at the airport and so got a nice tour of Christchurch itself.
One of the things I love most about New Zealand is the number of urban open spaces. It seems to be an important part of their culture. By 1840 when the treaty of Waitangi was signed 1, many British cities were overcrowded and polluted. Although it was generally recognized that green space in cities had the potential to improve health and address social concerns, public parks were still rare and those in existence could not keep up with a rapidly growing industrial population. When New Zealand became a separate colony in 1841, the governor was advised to reserve lands for public health and enjoyment 2. As we drive along one side of Hegley Park, it is clear that this intention has been met. The nearly 400 acre park is a jewel in the crown of Christchurch.
We passed by examples of classic architecture in the form of one of Christchurch’s Boys High Schools. The buildings and grounds have the flare and nostalgia of days long gone by with the boys in their short pants, ties, and jackets and the buildings with their classic lines.
Of course, there are also numerous examples of wonderful modern architecture as well as beautiful art works cropping up in unlikely places. Parts of Christchurch are still be reconstructed after the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 to improve “earthquake proofness” (our drivers word).
A quick stop at a grocery across from the station and we’re ready to head out of the city toward Queenstown.
Word count 424
Til next time ~Peace ~JPP