I never really appreciated how wonderful it was to live on a tiny island so far from the rest of the world. Now I live on a tiny island in the heart of the world and it’s rather terrifying. I am working on a more thoughtful response to tonight, but for now I am just going to take a moment to think about how glad I am that I will always have a NZ passport in my pocket.
Many months ago, Ashby and I set off on our big adventure. It didn’t actually start in San Francisco, but in New Zealand. As part of our wonderful extended honeymoon we spent a month travelling around our own country before we set off to check out some of the big, wide world.
We were lucky enough to be able to borrow ‘Sam’ for the trip – Ashby’s Dad’s trusted van – and we took him on a proper adventure. Four wheel driving through the South Island and camping in the Coromandel region, as well as more sedate time spent visiting with our gorgeous families and friends, all meant this was a trip to remember.
One of my highlights was getting to see a bit of NZ that I had never seen before – the Coromandel Peninsula. We had a few days in the region before we went to Auckland to catch our flight, and it was such a special treat for me.
In a traditionally dicey time for weather, we got super lucky with loads of sunshine as we explored the beaches that make the area famous. With no real plan, we based most of our movements around checking out DOC camping grounds. For anyone considering camping in NZ, DOC is certainly the place to start. The facilities range from incredibly basic, to fully serviced, but on the whole I have always been super impressed. The campgrounds are often in little spots of paradise and if you avoid the peak season you get miles of beauty all to yourselves.
Driving along the coast was a chance to see how breathtaking NZ can be, it is another stunning view around each corner. We took the chance to explore where we could, and spent hours soaking up the beauty of the beaches in particular.
I think the most breathtaking spot was a beach with a most wonderful name – New Chums Beach. It is a bit of a hike through the bush and we were glad we got there early as it did start to fill up a little after a while, but it is just beautiful. While Ashby found a comfortable spot to stretch out for a nap, I walked on an isolated sandy beach and had one of those moments of true peace. Secluded and beautiful, it really was something quite special.
It is about a thirty minute walk to the beach itself, with limitations around high tide. A less formed track than Cathedral Cove means it is not as popular – and hopefully it will stay that way!
On a future trip to the region it would be great to find a place to base ourselves for a longer stay. It is small enough that you could do quite a bit in a day trip, and it is such fun to be able to really relax into a place as well. With only a few days before we had to be in Auckland for our flight, we were limited in just how much we could see. There are loads of walks to explore, and many an hour could be spent under a Pohutakawa tree doing some proper summer time reading!
Ah, looking at these photographs has left me a little homesick! New Zealand really is a special part of the world.
Colour bursts through the city. It is hidden around corners, brightening walls and walkways. Between the grey of rubble and steel, new life is evident throughout.
There is no hiding the dramatic consequences of a multitude of earthquakes hitting Christchurch. Nearly five years on, the city still has the open wounds. Where buildings once stood, gaping holes are now blocks of rubble to navigate. The roads can be challenging to navigate with roadworks and traffic cones aplenty. On first glance, the city is scarred.
But by lifting one’s gaze just a smidge, it becomes clear that to write off this city is too simplistic. It is a city in a state of beautiful evolution. A giant art gallery of street art, peppered with exciting, new food options. The Avon River still gracefully snakes through the city centre, and new steel structures continue to grow out of the footprint of what has gone before. Wandering the central city, there is a life to Christchurch that is extraordinary. Observing a city evolving like this is a special moment; it will never again look quite like it does today. Tomorrow, there will be a little more built, it will grow and settle into itself once again. Eventually, this evolution will reach its natural end. It will become the new normal and people will tell stories of this time of change.
The earthquakes of 2011 destroyed a city, but the people of Christchurch have led that in a new direction. One of New Zealand’s largest cities, it is becoming a vibrant and exciting city – one I am proud to call my hometown.