Friday, 4 November 2011

Final Days in New Zealand - Dunedin and Christchurch

As we were finishing our trip to the south, we stopped at Dunedin.  Hanna Terwilliger, daughter of Eau Claire friends Ellen and Steve Terwilliger, is taking a semester abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, so we spent half a day with her.  We toured the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, looked around the beautiful old railway station, and visited the Dunedin Botanical Gardens.  Cindy and I continued on to the very good Otago Museum, and finally headed back to our backpackers (Hogwartz, an old bishop's residence now themed on the Harry Potter books).

Hanna and Paul at Cadbury

Cadbury chocolate
Dunedin Railway Station
French rugby supporter in Dunedin
The next morning we took the bus back to Christchurch, in time for a concert with Irish singer Pauline Scanlon and her band, sponsored by the Christchurch Folk Music Club. Our final weekend in Christchurch involved visiting some of our favorite places - the Riccarton Bush farmers market and Hagley Park.  There we took one final trip through the botanical gardens and then went to the activities area to check out the Garden Variety festival (part of the Rugby World Cup final game activities).  The festival  included display booths (including a fascinating trailer exhibit showing vintage New Zealand TV footage) as well as music and dance.  We learned a little merengue from the local Latin dance club, and saw a wonderful percussion group named Pandemonium .  On Sunday night we watched the home team make good, with the New Zealand All Blacks winning over France 8-7 to win the Rugby World Cup.

Sing Boy Sing
More performers at the Garden Variety festival
Pandemonium - percussion band
Water music
A few final thoughts:

- Christchurch does garbage right.  Everyone gets three containers - green for organics, yellow for recyclables, and red for landfill waste.  One week they pick up organics and recyclables, the other week they pick up organics and waste.  The city council runs this service, which is one place where government can be a lot more efficient than private industry - you don't get five different companies running their trucks down the same street.

- The postal service delivery people ("posties") ride bikes to deliver the mail.  We saw a postie hit a two-inch slot with a large envelope on the ride - pretty impressive.

- Christchurch was an interesting and active city from our perspective as short-term visitors, but it's certainly difficult for those who live there and have to deal with all of the work of rebuilding.  Perhaps the best expression of support we'd seen was an exhibit of hearts at the Canterbury Museum.  People from all over New Zealand have sent hearts of various colors, shapes and sizes to Christchurch in support of the people of Christchurch.  We are impressed by this national solidarity.

- There are a lot of beautiful places in New Zealand, but as with any traveling it's really the people that make it interesting.  We're thankful for all of the opportunities we had to meet and interact with new friends in Christchurch and elsewhere.

A boy Cindy visited
Cindy's walking group
Robert and Yalini - friends through University of Canterbury
Farandol - the Christchurch folk dancing group
This is the end of our trip and our blog.  As our Bulgarian friend Yuli says, "Bye for now".

Paul and Cindy

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