We were up at 7:30 am this morning and had a quick breakfast of cereal and toast before heading downtown. Jos had been surfacing the weather channels a suggested that we bring a jacket on our walk. It sure didn’t seem necessary as it was nice and warm. However you could see a very heavy low ceiling and a little wind would drop the temperature in a few minutes.
The walk downtown was only a few minutes. However before we got there the first empty buildings started to appear. There were ten story high rise condo buildings with broken windows and boarded up doors with huge cracks running up the sides. By the time we were downtown there were whole city blocks where the buildings had been removed. The city cathedral had been damaged and they had built a temporary cathedral out of cardboard tubes. It was a very unique structure. We visited the 186 empty chairs which represent the 186 people killed in the big earthquake. We decided that we would tour the earthquake museum in downtown rather than the main Christ Church museum as it was more unique. Looking at the pictures of the devastation of the city and reading about how the earthquake had destroyed the city were absolutely mind boggling. This earthquake destroyed something like 70% of the downtown buildings. However they had a time line and it looked like the ChristChurch had been hit with a 7.0 to 8.5 earthquake every 5-7 years so I guess this one just hit in the right place.
After the earthquake museum we had a quick lunch and headed back to the van. It was none too early as a light rain had started to fall. The low ceiling had moved down and was almost right from the ground up. I was glad I had a coat and was back to the van.
We headed south through a lot of low flat farming areas. There were lots of dairy farms and sheep herds along the road. Agnes took the wheel and practiced her right hand driving skills. She seemed much more confident and relaxed. The Rakaia Gorge which was highly recommended by the Earnie-apedia was pretty much rained out. We took a detour to visit Jos’ parents who live in Timaru. It was very nice to meet them.
Back on the road again we had a 60 mile drive over to Lake Tekapo. There was quite a climb over a pass. Once over the pass the clouds were gone and we were in brilliant sun shine. Lake Tekapo is a summer lake cottage town and a stop for the Japanese tour buses. There is one tiny strip mall which closes a 6:00Pm. The lake views are incredible.
Tomorrow is a big day so up early and on the road.