Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Zealand 2016 Day 8. Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula

We kept pushing south until we arrived to Christchurch, the second largest city in New Zealand. The folks here experienced a pretty strong earthquake in September 2010, and another 8 months later, in April 2011. The one-two punch caused extensive damage throughout the city, and as we crossed it we gaped in admiration to the number of new buildings being erected. We intend to explore Christchurch in more detail tomorrow, but for today contented ourselves with a very yummy sushi lunch, and our standard foray through the New World supermarket (we have become addicted to this particular chain).

The plan for the afternoon was to hike through the Banks Peninsula (thus named by Capt. James Cook in 1770, to honor the naturalist on board, Sir Joseph Banks). It was a good 70 km between Christchurch and Akaroa. The latter is a charming coastal city established by the French in 1840, which still retains much of its French flavor. From here a steep narrow dirt road climbs at an incredible angle toward the highlands. I had no idea about the steepness of these mountains, which were formed by a group of three volcanoes that have now been deeply eroded (in fact, the Akaroa Harbor was formed when the ocean breached the southern flank of the largest volcano—think Nevado de Toluca—and  invaded its crater). We did go for a walk way up on the crest, but it was at best a half-hearted attempt to what would have been a killer hike. 

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