We kept pushing south until we arrived to
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
(thus named by Capt. James Cook in 1770, to honor the naturalist on board, Sir
Joseph Banks). It was a good 70 km between Banks Peninsula 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.