Wednesday - Friday, June 22 - 24
Hanmer Springs - Christchurch, New Zealand
We are currently sitting in the Christchurch airport with 30 minutes of internet access. We have been up since 5:15 am. Our flight to Fiji has been cancelled on Jet Star Airlines because of the volcanic ash coming from Chili. We are trying to get rebooked for tomorrow on Air New Zealand; they and Emirates are the only airlines flying out of this airport. This ash problem has been an issue for us before because Ulla could not get to us from Australia. It took her several days of rebooking for her to finally get a flight. Hopefully, we will not spend out last few days of the trip at the airport.
The stay in Hanmer Springs was very nice. We met up with Dave, our local contact who provided some interesting activities for us. We went horseback riding along the mountains, and then spent the afternoon in a huge outdoor sulphur pool, complete with water rides.
Next stop Christchurch. I had been looking forward to coming to New Zealand and spending time here. Once the September earthquakes hit and the main city centre was damage, I was sad. Yesterday, as we drove around the residential areas and walked around Christchurch city centre, the sadness became more real. What once was a very busy, bustling downtown area looks like an abandoned movie set. There was a restaurant that you could look inside the windows and see the RESERVED sign on the table and the dead flowers in the fallen vase. The pepper shaker had dropped to the floor and the pepper had spilled. It was all surreal. Time was frozen. All the group was deeply moved by our observances.
Our last stop of the day was to experience the Maori culture tradition. We participated in the program by electing Kevin our chief. The girls did the poi dance and the guys did the haka. We all had lots of chuckles.
Now to Fiji…we were so excited to get to the warm sunny beaches but that has been delayed. Keep your fingers crossed that the rebooking goes well.