Archive for the ‘family’ Category
Christchurch has been our home city while we are living in New Zealand. As you might have been able to tell from our many weekend trips to beautiful places it is a great base for exploring the south island. Before the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes that destroyed much of Christchurch the city was a tourist destination as well, with lots of good restaurants, beautiful parks and a thriving city. To be fair the city still has pretty parks, and some good restaurants, but now when tourists visit it is to see a damaged city. The 2010 earthquake was larger than the 2011 one, but in 2011 the earthquake was so violent in it’s shaking that it was one of the or the strongest earthquake ever recorded in an urban area.
It has now been three years since the earthquake and in many ways you could go into the city and think that the earthquake happened 6 months ago.
This was the famous cathedral that was destroyed. There are so many barriers around the city and many of them have been decorated, providing a little bit of positive in all the destruction.
The building behind this barrier is also off limits and empty. When you first arrive in the city you look around and see buildings that are still standing, but then when you get a closer look you see that they have been deemed unsafe and empty. I don’t know when or if these buildings will come down or be repaired. I have read that it will take Christchurch 50-100 years to completely recover at a cost of over 40 billion.
A creative little playground in front of an abandoned building. The play stuff is made from the trash from the city after the earthquakes.
I didn’t feel too safe letting my kids play under a building that was deemed unsafe, but….
Art in front of the empty buildings.
This little street is tucked in-between the buildings from the previous photos. It was restored and opened last year and is a little colorful oasis in the middle of grey empty buildings and rubble.
The city has small little spots of recovery. The Re-Start Mall is some pedestrian only streets that have shops created from shipping containers.
This is the site of the CTV building where almost half of the deaths from the earthquake occurred when it collapsed.
The cardboard cathedral that opened in August.
Jason just finished up writing his reflections on living here for a report, and he sums our Christchurch experience well.
Living in Christchurch has opened our eyes to community issues that we’ve never experienced. Natural disasters are not a part of life back home—Syracuse is not subject to any major natural disturbances. So witnessing Christchurch’s attempts to reinvent itself after what in some cases seems comparable to reconstruction after the War has been fascinating and heartbreaking in equal measure. When you meet people for the first time, you quickly get their ‘earthquake story’—what they were doing when the second more devastating quake hit, and what happened in the aftermath. It is astonishing how many people had to leave their homes, and in some cases are still out of their homes even three years later. Nearly everyone has had to move around to some extent, both their living circumstances and their place of business. And yet people are still here, shops keep popping up everywhere, kids don’t appear unusually traumatized (I find this particularly remarkable), and the tourists still come to see a city centre that is mostly not there. To be sure, people are frustrated with local government, and I’m sure we talk to a more affluent cross section of town than the average, but on the whole life here goes on. We have never experienced something like this and it’s reassuring to see such resilience in a community.
Christchurch will need loads of resilience. The earthquakes have changed many things underground as well as above ground which are contributing to lots of other problems in the city–pot holes, sewer issues, and recently floods. Twice in the 4 months we have been here our neighborhood has flooded. Here are some photos from near us.
I know I don’t paint a pretty picture of the city of Christchurch. It isn’t pretty right now with all of the abandoned buildings and construction work, and floods. It has been a very welcoming city to us and seeing what these people have had to live through I am continually amazed that there is humor and light to be found.
We got to drive over Arthur’s Pass again to visit the west coast town of Punakaki. I like how all mountains that you have to cross are called passes. Echo said on a recent drive over some pass, “mom I can tell you are nervous because of how you grip the armrest”. Yup–and can you blame me with these things to pass over and through??
Almost all of the bridges are oneway , sometimes the bridge is right at the bottom of a really steep grade where you wonder if the brakes on the car heading for you will work, or sometimes it is a one way bridge that is also shared by a train like this one! And railway crossings here don’t have those nice arms that come down to make sure you stop–you just have to keep aware.
The clouds in this country are always right next to and on top of you.
And then there are parts of the road like this. It is a little blurry because I think I might have had my eyes closed. To be honest I actually like this part of this pass. At least here you can tell they are protecting you from the slips (what we call land slides). Usually you just see a lot of slips and thank goodness you timed your drive correctly.
Once we made it over the pass we were on the coast and it was sunset. I really should have insisted that we pull over so I could sit and enjoy this sunset, but instead I grabbed these photos out of the window of the car. We had hungry kids in the car and it was getting late.
This was what the sky looked like when we finally arrived.
The next morning we made our way out to the Pancake rocks trail–our first of three times on the trail because we loved it so much.
Here if the girls look a bit nervous it is because they are walking past the blow hole that occasionally makes a large noise and sprays water. We arrived right before a big storm so the ocean was wild and the waves were huge.–a really dramatic time. I think technically the pancake rocks are heavily eroded limestone . I loved it.
A small bit of stray from the blow hole.
And then there is this!
The girls waiting for a show.
Having fun with my plastic lens.
Exploring the beach.
We were met at Punakaki by Jason’s dad and step-mom in our first of two visits from back home. Sadie thought the ocean was a bit wild and preferred to stay up on the rock for safety. Also the sand was pretty hard to walk on–mostly pebbles.
See that canvas print above the girls head? I will have many of those.
When we went back to the pancake rocks the blow holes were even more dramatic.
See how my kids are wearing flip flops. This would be a good time to mention if you ever visit the west coast of the south island don’t let any skin show. We found out about the sandfly the hard way and in Punakaiki it was the worst. They just look like a gnat, but my poor kids will probably have scars for life on their feet from all the bites they got. I bet if you put a microscope to this image there feet would be covered in them.
Next up–some photographs of Christchurch, our home for the last few months when we are not off exploring.
As aways, thanks for following along.
Abel Tasman is a national park on the north side of the south island of New Zealand. We went for a weekend to hike part of the Abel Tasman track. Since we couldn’t fit in the whole 32 miles while we were there we took a water taxi up the coast and hiked about 16 miles back to our car–stopping half way to sleep on a house boat.
The north part of the south island is know as the sunny side and it lived up to it’s reputation while we were there.
Leaving on the water taxi was pretty fun. Since we left at low tide we were pulled out by a tractor. I was impressed.
Heading out on our hike.
This was the view for most of the hiking.
We did not time our hike to work with a low tide crossing of this section of the trail. If we were not carting sleeping gear we might have been able to walk across, but the water was cool and although it might not look like it, the water was pretty deep. Echo insisted on trying and ended up turning back once the water hit her shorts. Taking the high trail adds an additional 1.5 hours.
This was the ending spot for the first part of our hike. We relaxed a bit before getting picked up for the house boat we slept on. Looking at the beautiful water all day got me excited for some warm relaxing time on the beach. Unfortunatey this beach was were I was first introduced the worst pest on New Zealand –the sand fly. Relaxing on the sand was no longer an option, but in the water they were manageable.
We saw a few sting rays close to shore.
This view was the first thing in New Zealand to remind me of Hawaii.
In order to get space on the house boat we had to split up. The kids had a bunk down below while Jason and I had a double bed on the top of the boat. I guess we could have given the kids the double room, but we didn’t want to spoil them too much. 🙂
Here is a peek at the bunk room. My lens wasn’t really wide enough to show much, but there were at least 8 bunks on one side below and another 8 on the other side. It was not a place for anyone with claustrophobia.
The boat was full when we stayed and a solo traveler quickly decided to jump off the top of the boat when we got there. His jump inspired Sadie to do a jump off of the main deck, followed quickly by a warm shower.
The view from our room. We got the room all to ourselves until about midnight when Sadie made her way up there and slept at our feet.
The second day of hiking was much like the first.
Making the 5 hour drive back to Christchurch we passed by many hop farms.
If you are keeping track–we haven’t spent one weekend in Christchurch since arriving at our house. The kids have done a bit of complaining, but we only have 4 moths here and a lot to see!
My memories of my time on the North Island of New Zealand are starting to fade so I need to hurry up and finish this journal!
After breaking camp at the Pueroa Forest, we headed on a hike that we had read about online. The directions were a little sketchy, so it took us a bit to find. It was billed as a short hike that went to a beach on the Tasman Sea–perfect. This is where we ended up after a fairly hot and longer than expected hike (much grumbling by the kids)–on a beautiful beach on the Tasman Sea.
As you can see we were the only people there–no resorts, no houses, just a big long beach with shallow water all to ourselves.
Somehow we didn’t bring any towels or swimsuits with us on this hike.
As we got ready to head back to our car we saw another car drive down the beach and set up camp…so parking seems pretty easy. :0
Now onto those killer cows. Our hike to the sea was almost entirely through pasture land and judging by how curious the cows seemed I’m pretty sure they don’t get many hikers on this trail. Even though I didn’t see any bulls the evil eyes the cows gave me had us all a little on edge.
Can you believe the views these cows have? I kept thinking that this would be a resort or a golf course if this spot was in the US.
Another view of our “trail” to the sea.
Feeling happy now that we have gotten past most of the killer cows.
There was a large hill at the end of the trail and I noticed some hornet nests on the way up so I warned the kids to be very careful where they stepped on the way down.
Right after this photo the hornets found me. I only got bitten once, but Jason was trapped for a bit behind me while he had to make a new trail down to avoid the angry hornets.
Another view of the stairs to the sea.
After our beach time we headed back to the forest to look for some of the biggest Kauri trees .
We also had our first taste of something truly New Zealand–hokey pokey ice cream–which is vanilla ice cream with little bits of honey toffee in it. I think it is the most popular ice cream flavor here.
This photos is just an example of a random spot on our drive. This spot isn’t in the guidebooks you just drive around a corner and bam! another little beautiful spot.
This was one of my favorite campsites of our trip- at the Aroha Eco Reserve.
The view from our tent at sunset.
Sadie found a great climbing tree that also had a tree swing.
Rainbow falls just outside the town of Kerikeri. This part of New Zealand kind of reminded me of Central New York.
We skipped most of the famous caves on the North Island, but we did stop at Waipu Cave. Sadie insisted on stopping pretty early into the exploration, but we did get to see some of the famous glow worms. Can you see them too? They are not actually worms of course, but they are insects that glow through bioluminescence. Jason and Echo traveled further into the cave and were treated to a ceiling totally aglow.
The cave entrance.
We left the very north, drove back through Auckland to the tiny town of Matamata. The town is now famous for being the location of Hobbiton from the Lord of the Rings movies. We stayed at the lovely Chestnut Lane Cottage. We stayed in the same place that Martin Freeman stayed in while filming The Hobbit. Our hosts were amazing and brought over fresh scones with cream and jam as well as a cheese plate.
The view from our cottage.
Next up–our visit to Hobbiton.
Hi there. I hope everyone had an awesome spring break. I had a great time celebrating my daughter’s 9th birthday,entertaining family, coloring eggs, doing a few sessions, and avoiding the computer as much as I could. Now to play catch up.
A few of our activities were documented:
And, now onto a session that didn’t get put up right away because I was avoiding the computer.
Isn’t he adorable?
Have a super day!
I am going to take a break from the France photos to show off what we did this weekend on our trip to NYC.
During this trip along with seeing a few shows (Lucky Peterson, the ballet, Wicked) I got to look at lots of art and specifically got to see three photo exhibitions–the newly opened Cindy Sherman show at the MOMO, some works of Weegee at a NYC gallery, and some of the newly discovered works of the photographer Vivian Maier.
I look so often at wedding blogs, or blogs of other family/child photographers that I almost forgot how important it is to look at these masters of the genre.
I think I was inspired by them all as I was a tourist in the city this weekend. Here is what it looked like from my camera.