What did you do for Christmas?

Empty buildings, construction sites, art stuff all over the place to make everything look a bit nicer and liveable. Christchurch was hit by an earthquake four years ago and still hasn't recovered. It is like a ghost city and you realise that especially when you walk through town by night. There are no lights in the buildings and it feels quite creepy. Creepy darkness and sad silence. Every visitor probably wonders why nothing is happening. Well, I did. Some say there are insurance problems and ongoing discussions what should be rebuild, eg the cathedral. Nevertheless, we had of one the most delicious pizza @Café Valentino and the best Mexican food ever @Mexicano's. Seriously, it makes my mouth watering just thinking of those awesome Taccos!

After Christchurch we were driving towards West to see the ultimate blues of Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau. The beautiful color of that water comes from the rocks grinding together underneath the glacier. That powder then ends up in the water which reflects the sunlight giving a milky turquoise appearance. It is by far a bit more complicated than that but I don't want to go too much into detail!

One of my favorite stops was at Lake Hawea which is the lake right next to the more famous Lake Wanaka. We found a beautiful "natural" campground with lake view and obviously got in for some (freezing) dips, too.

From nature to town: Queenstown is a beauty but unfortunately full of drunken backpackers and other annoying tourists (including us!). I wonder if there were actually real inhabitants  during Christmas and New Years! Haha. A good book a bit further away from the busy "beach" down at the lake and the best Pork Belly dish ever @Captains Restaurant made my day though!

We did a few hikes while in New Zealand but the Gertrude Saddle Route was really exciting!!! It started with walking through grass, mountains on your left and right side. As soon as we came a bit closer to the mountain ahead of us, we already could see some snow fields and hear the water of some falls dripping down from up top. Up top was where we were going and it was quite a steep hike and not only we had to cross a waterfall, had to pass snowfields and a glacier lake but also had to climb up along some ropes! Imagine that: down in the grass it was a hot summer day and obviously the higher we went, the cooler it got. There was snow! Still getting excited about it. Finally on top we had a wonderful view on Milford Sound. From above. 

We also did a boat cruise on Milford Sound the next day but although it is beautiful and truly impressive there were way too many people in that little valley. Can be expected but somehow a bummer. Much more enjoyed the view from above.

And then New Years arrived. ALREADY AGAIN! We've spent New Years in Dunedin, usually a small city with about 120.000 inhabitants and around 20.000 students, but empty. Only a few tourists. Peter and I wanted to do some bar hopping which didn't happen in the end because of rain. Mucho rain! After dinner we went back to our hotel and stayed in bed. Old couple. Ha!

From Dunedin we drove back to Christchurch where we had to catch our plane back home to Australia but I have to mention one more "thing" that happened on our way: the town Oamaru. Totally unexpected we went there for a little stop over and thought we ended up in a film studio or a movie town. The old town of Oamaru impresses with its buildings from the 19th century. 

Jen

stories by jen, Große Brinkgasse, Köln, NRW, 50672, Australia