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Jan
31
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Category: Travel to New Zealand

Eeeeh haah we got our bikes and rode to the VTNZ to get a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) equivalent to our RWC and temporary registration for the bikes and were the 1st Aussies to get there then went back to the hotel to collect our bag and suitcase and headed north. Was chuffed to have the roadworthy guy say, ‘I hope all the rest of the bikes are in as good a condition as these two’. All the staff at the centre were terrifically helpful as were the guys at the Transport Company ably led by Clint who was a real gentleman. A shame we had to keep determinedly pedalling to make it to Picton by a reasonable hour tonight so we can head off on the ferry to Wellington tomorrow, but it was a blast to finally be on the bikes.

Ever since we got our bike licences, we’ve known New Zealand was a country just begging to be ridden around and yep it sure is. Awesome sights today weaving between coastal views and further inland amongst rolling grassland, intense grape vines and lumpy bumpy hills and mountains in the distance. Just beautiful.

We were originally supposed to stay 2 nights at Napier once we got to the North Island which is one of our favourite spots being the Art Deco capital of New Zealand but to keep as much of our itinerary on track without further cancellations, we decided to head for Wairoa tomorrow night.

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A bridge near the airport as we headed out of Christchurch.

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Exploring off the main highway but lost interest when the seal was lifting off.

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A couple of many tunnels as we headed for Kaikoura.

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Beachside view in Kaikoura, site of the earthquake when we were last in Wellington.

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The Bay at Picton.

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A cute litte apartment building in Picton called Art Deco Apartments for obvious reasons.

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And the Oxley Hotel, built in 1870 and still a good spot for a meal

Last 2 nights’ accommodation:

Equestrian Hotel

6 Tower Street

Hornby NZ

I've tried to load a photo a dozen times and it wont work so I'm over it! Googe it if you want a photo.

An ageing but determined suburban pub which started off as a community owned establishment. It’s working hard now at offering a comprehensive service for all sorts of people even Aussies who cannot collect their motorbikes. New management is trying to overcome an air of previous neglect plus quake damage with new paint and carpet in the hallway of the area we stayed and a small but newly tiled bathroom. Generous sized room and comfortable bed but lacking an armchair. Wi-Fi slow and frustrating but adequate for checking mail. Staff terrifically friendly and helpful. On site ‘Ironhorse Garden Café’ named after the model railway which used to run in the garden with very nice meals as well as a bar and pokies if that appeals and multiple function rooms. Good community resource. Best bit for us is that it is in walking distance from the transport company (PF Transport) where we had to collect our bikes.


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Jan
30
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Category: Travel to New Zealand

Another relaxing day of our holiday in New Zealand……yeah well in theory. We enjoyed one another’s company, I got myself another book to read to distract myself and we tried not to get too distracted with the need to cancel and rebook accommodation and ferry options and commiserated with the locals about the heatwave sent to them by Australia…..only high 30’s here but big for the locals and there are dry parched hills in the distance so very concerning for them…..and we felt like locals standing in the shade of traffic light poles on our way back from the transport office this afternoon waiting for the lights to change. It was effective so it didn’t matter that it looked ridiculous.

We have been assured that the Biosecurity people WILL clear our bikes for pick up in the morning and then we will hotfoot it to the VTNZ to get our Warrant of Fitness (WOF) same as a RWC then get the short-term registration for them. The paperwork already filled out plus the necessary attachments of registration certificate and copies of licences as well as the Customs / DPI clearance certificate we will be given in the morning. After that it will be back to the hotel where we will collect our bag and case and then we will head north. Yay!

So, we have again delayed our accommodation at Picton now for tomorrow night as well as the ferry crossing the following day. We have had to cancel our 2 nights in Napier and rebook another 1 after that booking and cancel 1 night at Whakatane between there and Whitianga and then we will be back with our original itinerary…. well that’s the plan at least so we will see.

I decided I wasn’t strong enough to tackle the photo thing again today so added another couple on our ferry trip across to Wellington.

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A shot of what remains of the previously tallest building in Christchurch (22 storeys). Chilling.

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And the Rollickin Desserts Cafe in New Regent Street from the balcony of Casa Publica. We didn't get to try an icecream but I think everyhone else in Christchurch as well as visitors did. There was a constant queue. Hope to try one on our return.


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Jan
29
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Category: Travel to New Zealand

Yes, that's right we are still in Christchurch and we won't have our bikes until tomorrow at the earliest. Since we couldn’t extend our booking at our previous hotel, we booked near the Container importer so we can swing into action as soon as possible .... which at this stage looks like being tomorrow at the earliest, hopefully will be? We have cancelled one night’s accommodation transferred another to another night as well as our ferry crossing (thanks Sue from Travel Plus, an angel as always) but enough depressing news for one day .... oh, that's right I cannot import my photos onto my notebook for some reason. I'm hoping it's because it seems a bit like steam driven Wi-Fi here so will try again when we move on and if it's still crapola then I might use the notebook as a frisbee!

Before we left Christchurch, we went for another stroll, had a coffee and visited the new library which was an uplifting experience. It is a wonderful building with a magnificent central timber staircase under a massive skylight roof and it really was uplifting to be in there. We spoke to one of the staff sharing our experience of the building who said when it was first opened many people used to come in and just cry when they experienced the beauty of the building rising above the city and looking out at the devastation of what was largely an unrecognisable city from a safe place. Was a powerful conversation.

We also had some great views out into the city which was uplifting seeing the vibrant new additions to the vistas as well as sad seeing such incredible devastation. I have a collection of photos of all that which I can hopefully add over time when internet speeds and my patience both improve.

Our overall observations of Christchurch are that it is no longer the incredibly picturesque reflection of English cities it once was but is growing into a vibrant new modern city with wonderful restful and welcoming gathering spots with many seating options all over the city just begging the population to gather, chill and rest a while. Napier is considered the Art Deco capital of New Zealand after being rebuilt following a massive earthquake in that period and I suspect Christchurch will be the Modern 2020 capital when it is fully restored and if the current progress is any indication it will be spectacular. I wish them well.

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One of the many cheerful spaces in the new library.

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And the awesome central staircase

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An example of many of the gathering / seating options throughout the central part of the city.

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Yet another mural.

Last 3 nights’ accommodation:

Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

166 Gloucester Street

Christchurch NZ 8011

Hmm, seem to have lost the pic so you will need to Google it.

Small but practical King room albeit starting to show a little wear and tear and small but nicely fitted out bathroom. Staff helpful and cheerful. On-site ‘Straits’ restaurant served a very nice meal and the bar looked to be doing a good trade as well. Side door leads into the Cathedral Junction complex complete with tram stop as well as being across the road from New Regent Street which is a restored mall with 1920’s store fronts which looks quirky and was bustling all times of day and night. The hotel is a handy spot to stay with only a short walk to Cathedral Square and lots of parks and shopping options if that’s what floats your boat.


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Jan
28
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Category: Travel to New Zealand

Mmm well we started the day learning we are unlikely to collect our bikes today so decided to do some more exploring.

To say we are gob smacked at the devastation all around us would be an understatement and I cannot imagine how much more so it must be for the residents themselves. Blocks and blocks and blocks of leveled rubble being used as car parks and repair and rebuilding evident everywhere. The bonus of that as we heard yesterday is that you get to reimagine and reinvent the city to suit a population in 2019 and we saw evidence of that in generous and imaginative public spaces and shared foot and tram areas including where there were previously roads. Looks impressive! 

As well as the frenetic construction all around us there are many examples of efforts to soften the impact with garden areas and murals and apparently Lonely Planet now says Christchurch is a worldleader in street murals.

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The new convention center  which is already taking bookings for February next year ... hope that's not too hopeful.

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More construction and a clever use of containers giving safe pedestrian access and cover in the rain. Very clever and reuseable for future construction.

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Softening the edges of constrution with some greenery.

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And with a bit of fun greenery beside an empty space with a sign on the car door which says Greening the Rubble.

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Some of the mural work.

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And again.

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And again.

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New city speed limits.

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No motorbike parking on the footpath here but some parking available without charge which is good...and okay for the purists I know it's a scooter but you get the idea.

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The Transitional Cathedral. Very temporary construction lined with cardboard and what looks like plastic roofing. You can see the containers at the side as well.

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And on the inside.

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A rudimentary memorial of 185 chairs of all sizes and description in memory of the 185 people who died in the earthquake.


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Jan
27
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Category: Travel to New Zealand

Well we slept in until just before midday (okay so that was only just before 10am Australian time but it was still pretty impressive especially by Norms usual standards) then we headed off for a leisurely breakfast and rest of the day. We wandered the streets, hopped on the tram which was great, visited the Earthquake Museum then had a beer and chips on our way back to the hotel. The temperture has been comfortable all day with a cool breeze getting a bit more brisk by this evening.

As everyone knows Christchurch experienced a serious earthquake in 2010 (the first there for 110 years) and that was followed by another in 2011 which was devastating and resulted in catastrophic damage and loss of life (185). There are still whole blocks empty and signs of rebuilding and repair everywhere and the whole town was evacuated for 3 years afterwards but my goodness what a tribute to the resilience of New Zealanders (Cantabrians - residents of the Canterbury region) in the massive repair and rebuilding which is ongoing. There is a staggering amount of money being spent to revive the city and entice people back. 

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The Cathedral, very sad. The last time we were here we were sitting under the cathedral tower drinking beer at a little cafe. They anticipate it will be 7 to 10 years before it's repaired.

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The Library one of many new buildings. 

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Revived shopping areas.

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And more.

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Older timber buidings overall fared better in the quake being more flexible than bricks and mortar, other than chimneys of course.

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My man as we wait for our beer and chips. This was at the OGB Bar voted best bar for a couple of years. It is part of the Heritage Hotel which is in what is known as the Old Government Buiding hence OGB Bar. It was built with a Shooting Range and Swimming Pool in the basement. The Shooting Range is long gone but the swimming pool survives. We enjoyed our beer and some live entertainment.

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And that's the bar right there.

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The park areas were a welcome relief to the bustle of building and the desolation of empty blocks

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More cool respite spaces in parks throughout the city.


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Jan
26
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Category: Travel to New Zealand

Well we had an awesome dinner with friends last night which was a great send off and start to our time out. Thanks guys.

Today we had a great flight to Christchurch and got in a bit earlier than scheduled which was the good news for the day.

The not so good news is that the bikes (in their container) are held up in Lyttleton Port and instead of collecting them on Monday we don't know when we are going to be able to collect them. DOH! Just as well we are in the business of logistics so we will sort what we need to so we can get this trip back on track.

A few shots from our day:

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Celebrting Australia Day in the Qantas Club eating lamingtons and sipping champagne.

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A tram in the mall near our hotel.

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Lots of good restaurants and people having fun with our hotel in the background.

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A couple of monkeys hanging out in the mall.


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Jan
19
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Category: Travel to New Zealand

Well we loaded Norm's Triumph Rocket III and my Indian Scout into a container on January 4th and now the countdown is on until we fly out on Australia Day (January 26th for those who don't know the date). We are working our way through our list of 'must do's before we head off and trying to not add extras to it as we go and cannot wait until we get to Christchurch and can start exploring New Zealand on our bikes when we pick them up on the 28th. Whoo hoo!

We are grateful to our house sitters Rose and Bear who will look after things in our absence at home and all the crew at BRANSTRANS who will keep on keeping on.

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The Rocket heads into the container.

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Then the Indian.

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 All tied down for the trip.


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