We arrived at our main travel destination (New Zealand) after a reasonably short flight from Sydney. We left Sydney on a gloomy day with light rain and arrived in Christchurch with a clear blue sky and temperatures around 35C. This has surprised us as we thought it would be the other way round. Before we came on this trip friends and relatives who have been to NZ before always mentioned how English it is and how friendly every one is. This is exactly as we have found it apart from the temperature of course!
On our first night in Christchurch we were in an airport motel so after getting sorted we set off to the city centre for a look round and a bite to eat. We were so shocked to see the extent of the post earthquake damage. It looks like it will take many years for the centre to be redeveloped. There were many roads blocked off and many cleared sites. We struggled to find a place to eat. Many businesses apparently relocated to the suburbs and only recently have some begun to come back in but it was clear that the city centre was really a ghost town. We did manage to find somewhere good to eat in a pub / restaurant which seems to be a common format here in NZ. The main impression is that the residents of Christchurch still feel sad and wounded by the earthquake which happened 3 years ago now.
The following day we set off to pick up our motor home. It was a bit of a bad experience. The depot was very busy and they said it would take up to one hour to get to us. As it happened it took 2 hours and for those after us it must have taken longer. Tempers were rising around the waiting room but when we did get attended to there was a fulsome apology and a compensation payment back to us of 300 NZ dollars which we thought was generous and eased our temper. Anyway by the time we had been through the mill and taken possession of our van and done the supermarket food shop it was late afternoon as we set off for our pre booked pitch at Lake Tekapo. We had planned on a journey time of about 2.5 hours but in the checkout at the supermarket we were chatting to the assistants and were told it would take 5 hours. Panic was setting in about whether we would reach our pitch that evening. However the checkout girl was obviously wrong and we made it in about 2.5 hours as planned. We had however lost much of the day due to Maui the delays at the motor home company! But we arrived at an idyllic pitch overlooking the lake and we soon forgot about our frustrations. We ate in the village centre in yet another pub restaurant. There was a bride wandering round in her bridal gown - there is a beautiful little church nearby which is apparently very popular for weddings. We couldn't face unpacking and getting sorted, so left all that until this morning.
We decided to try sleeping in the bed over the cab of the motor home - an interesting experience with some good and some not so good points. The whole vehicle seems to rock gently when you climb up there - a bit like being just slightly tipsy and the ladder is a bit precarious. On the other hand, we can leave that bed made up which is good and we had our best nights sleep so far!