Waving goodbye to my southward-bound Flying Kiwi mates (and the pasture of cows who moo in the same pitch my cell phone vibrates), I hitched a ride back toward Christchurch in Rangitata Raft’s courtesy van. They dropped me about ½ an hour south of ChCh in the suburb of Rolleston where new friends Al & Ruth met me at the BP station. Upon recommendation from relatives Cliff and Chris, nurses Al & Ruth generously agreed to host me in their lovely home and show me around Christchurch for a whole week.
For a million reasons, I’m so glad they did.
Al & Ruth at Akaroa
I absolutely adore these two. With Al & Ruth as guides, I fell even more in love with Christchurch and every little town and every gorgeous view along the way. It’s actually quite emotional for me to write about now, considering the roads we drove on and the restaurants we dined in and the museums we visited are badly damaged if not destroyed by the February 2011 earthquake.
Normally I’d tell you where to eat and what to see, but I don’t even know what’s left, so bear with me and enjoy Christchurch as it was a few weeks ago.
I am so relieved and so grateful Al & Ruth are still standing.
Al tends to be a bit accident prone from what I can tell (maybe because everyone in NZ is just looking for the next death defying stunt to attempt) so he was off work during my stay recovering from a freak gardening accident involving a hammer and his finger (ok, not so death defying this time). This worked out to my advantage because he played tour guide and drove me all over the place on the days Ruth was working. One day we checked out the windy roads and hillside homes of Lyttelton and had lunch at nearby Rock Cafe in Sumner.
Sumner after the quake. I wish I’d taken more pictures that day.
Ruth and I had a girl’s day out on Tuesday, taking a balance class at the Les Mills gym then hitting up the mall for pedicures (much needed after Tongariro!), Thai food and girl talk. That gal is an amazing cook, a total breath of fresh air and the living example of the Proverbs woman. I want to be like her when I grow up… even if she’s only a few months older.
Another day while Ruth was working, Al and 7-year-old son Noah and I played mini-golf. Noah and I were buddies almost instantly, probably because I have Doodlejump on my iPhone, and that tends to make me a hero with the youngsters. I think he was pretty impressed with that I sunk a hole-in-one, too. After mini-golf, we went to Starbucks across from Christchurch Cathedral for frappuccinos. Who would’ve thought that spot would be unrecognizable three weeks later? Click here to see the before and after satellite photos. We were sitting where the umbrellas are in the first photo.
Seventy-five km away from Christchurch is the cutie little French town of Akaroa, home of Hector’s Dolphins. We didn’t see any of the little guys, but did have a gorgeous day.
Lovely view on the way to Hanmer Springs
We drove up to Hanmer Springs one sunny day for a soak in the mineral pools and a frolic on the water slides. We hopped from thermal to sulphur pools all day long, capping off our relaxation with yummy fish and chips. My time in New Zealand has made me a huge fan of fish and chips… and the video below. (Thanks for sharing, Al!)
Sunday we went to church of course, but I’ll share more about that on Church Around The World Sunday.
When Christchurch gets back up and running, I will be the first person to recommend visiting.
Though much of it will have changed since I was there, it’s really the people like Al & Ruth who make it such a lovely place to visit. Al & Ruth – kia ora for showing me your beautiful city!
Up next… What We Did After Church