After being out of NZ for three years and away from almost all our wonderful family that whole time, you can imagine the excitement as we boarded the plane heading to the land of blue sky, sunshine, hobbits and innovation.
We did take the scenic route, with stops in Dubai, Bangkok and Sydney ( great leg stretches), before touching down in Christchurch, two hours early I might add!
Although we read the local newspapers pretty regularly and try to keep up to date with all the ongoing work since the earthquake it was still an amazing site to take in.
The February 2011 earthquake had been the catalyst in us heading away as we had been living right in the CBD and were displaced that day. Thankfully neither of us were injured but had certainly been caught in the thick of it and were incredibly lucky. Displaced by the police and army that afternoon with houses and church toppling around us, we were only allowed back under supervision three weeks later to pack up all belongings. Material possessions seemed to lose their importance and we were shaken about enough that we thought nothing of it to put everything in storage and set forth on a new adventure that had been a dream for years.
Banks Peninsula, Governors Bay in particular, was looking stunning with a hint of Autumn colours just appearing. We had some wonderful nights here with Anne and Tony and as we settled in were reminded of that wonderful view down the harbour.
And the great vibe that Lyttleton exudes especially when you’re with a real local like Kate who seems to attract people and create a party wherever she is. Can highly recommend Samo’s Cafe in Lyttelton, strong smooth coffee and delicious food all made out of a makeshift shed and the friendliest of atmospheres.
Three days in a bach in Akaroa with Milly and Harriette was extra special (perhaps they would describe it as plenty long enough to be alone with Mum and Dad) as we had them all to ourselves. We delighted in trying some great Otago Pinot Noir's, some local food and again great cafes down in the village within easy walking distance that were calling. Lovely walks along the foreshore and exploring the village both in the gorgeous evening light and early morning. I had almost forgotten why Akaroa is high on the 'Must Do’ list for tourists stopping off in Christchurch. Its well worth the hour and a half drive and once there its compulsory wind down time.
Time to admire Hugh and Georgie’s handi work as their new home in Holmes Road, Tai Tapu takes shape. Lots of long hours for the two of them as they are doing it all themselves, after work and in the weekends, but it is all coming together and looking fabulous. An ideal spot with everything that three young energetic little people could want and more. Most importantly at the moment, a wonderful big farm shed that is filling up with a very impressive stack of firewood thanks to an even more impressive log splitter that father and son were bonding over!!!!
Saturday morning and central Christchurch is buzzing with action. Milly was wearing her business’s owners hat today with Chester M getting some good exposure at an Art Fair in the Pallet Pavilion, the old site of the Crown Plaza. Her jewellery and display looked wonderful amongst her peers and she got some very encouraging feedback.
David, Drew, Milly, Harriette and Tessa, Harrys support crew at the polo.
A day out at Waireka to see a bit of Secondary Schools polo was an unexpected treat with Tessa and Drew’s son Harry playing. The Pimms was flowing, as Milly and Tat soon discovered, so we could sit and relax for a few hours in the sunshine, admiring young new talent coming up through the ranks and the glorious surroundings Rod and D have created out there.
It was great to head out through Sumner, remembering some of the magical mountains biking tracks we used to enjoy, and then over the hill to Taylors Mistake. Really another little gem that is only a stones throw from Christchurch but a world apart. Sue, David and I walked out along the track past Boulder Bay to Godley Head then up the hill and back along the mountain bike track before whizzing down the Anaconda. Sadly only on foot but it was a magical walk with spectacular views and the greatest of company.
And a walk or ride is never really finished until coffee. Am still a believer that NZ does the best coffee in the WORLD - stronger, smoother and gutsier than anywhere else we’ve been. And a trip home would not be complete without a stop at 'Taste @ Twenty’ - the ultimate espresso, courtesy of Katie, a date laden Darin scone and a hug from John.
Over to Diamond Harbour for our last couple of days in Paradise with Kate and Dan and the children. They’ve found a superb spot over there, up the hill, high enough to get the dramatic views but still close enough to be able to walk to the ferry, cafe/wine bar and local store. The place has that quiet village atmosphere, well away from any harsh hustle and bustle, full sunshine from morning till evening, spectacular views and only forty minutes drive from Christchurch or a seven minute ferry crossing from Lyttelton. What's there not to like about this place?
A big birthday for a gorgeous girl and some delicious cocktails in the hammock. It was time to kick back and practise being a local. Enjoy a hot tub with a view, navigate a maze and discover some hidden treasure with the help of the grandchildren and then a glass or two of wine on the veranda.
A couple of nights in the Aquabach enjoying dramatic views of the harbour, the night lights of Lyttelton and right down to Godley Head. Then a wonderful family walk down to Purau beach via the old stock route. A high energy game of Bunny Smash that is a Rivers family favourite Easter game and Boh showed us how its done.
Banana passionfruit, Diamond Harbour-- Carolina, Katie, Sam, Lulu and Nick at the Store, Kekerengu.
Sadly it is the end of a glorious holiday and we must get back on the plane. Emotionally it is not easy to leave everyone especially made harder by the untimely death of Michael, David’s wonderful brother and greatest of friends, during the week. But so very thankful that we were down in this part of the world to be with everyone.