On A Clear Day You Can See the Alps

21st April, Christchurch, New Zealand

Manda writes:

All that walking from yesterday finally caught up with us today. Our calve muscles were aching as a result of yesterday's mission to try to squeeze in as many tourist attractions as we possibly could in one day. When we dropped in to the hostel reception this morning, we had already planned our day's itinerary - wanting to give our feet a rest, we'd planned to take a bus to the Botanic Gardens first. However, like most of the itineraries we come up with, this did not go according to plan and the receptionist suggested that we visit a place called Port Hills instead. She convinced us that with clear blue skies, it was an ideal day to take in the vista of Christchurch and the southern Alps from above. As keen tourists, we immediately put away thoughts of a lazy day and accompanying aches & pains and just went with the flow.

Port Hills is about 10km from the city and we took the Number 28 bus, followed by a gondola ride to the top. As promised, we were not disappointed and enjoyed the spectacular views. We could see the Alps clearly in the distance (although there was little snow to speak of) and Christchurch in the foreground. We also saw the port town of Lyttelton and the Pacific Ocean. Apparently, Port Hills is an extinct volcano and this explains the dramatic scenery. It was definitely worth the trip even though the gondola ride was a little on the expensive side.

Lyttelton Harbour and Quail Island, as viewed from the top of Port Hills.

Waiting for the bus, I realised that I had lost one of my gloves ... and my hat. Darn it! Retracing our footsteps in my mind, I came to the conclusion that I'd left my hat on the bus and the glove, well, I had no idea when this went missing. Maybe it was lying on a street somewhere, maybe it was back at the hostel, who knows?! Ian told the bus driver about the missing hat and he radioed through to the other drivers on the Number 28 route. Eventually, the location of my missing hat was located - it was still on the bus that took us to the gondola station. To my surprise, the two bus drivers agreed to exchange my hat on-route. I was very impressed with the service! I was a happy bunny again - but there was still the matter of the missing glove!

Back at Cathedral Square, we saw the wizard again. Ian had wanted to take a close-up photo of the eccentric's double-fronted' car and here it is (how weird does this look?):

The wizard's two-fronted VW Beetle.

"People must do a double take when they are queuing up behind you," Ian commented. "Ah yes, but the expression on their faces when I over-take is even better," replied the wizard, who had a wardrobe change for the day, donning a white druid-looking cloak. "It's going to be a hot day today, hence the white outfit", he added, clocking our curious expressions. We stayed to listen to him begin his rantings for the day and chuckled when he announced his website address (www.wizard.gen.nz). Mr Wizard, famous for his ranting and raving, has a web address too! Excellent!

The next port of call was the Arts Centre. As we walked into the courtyard, we could see the lovely Gothic buildings. These buildings formerly housed the University of Canterbury but has since been transformed to an arts and crafts complex. There are many cafés on the grounds. I was a little surprised to hear Bob Marley's "We're jammin'" as I first entered one of the courtyards, but the mellow sounds seemed appropriate for the peaceful settings.

We went back to the Botanic Gardens once more and covered all the areas we had missed yesterday - oh, and the bits that we had already covered too for good measure (hey, the light was better today anyway!). The gardens were full with orange, yellow and red leaves - displaying the full autumn range! We had fun throwing leaves in to the air and watching them falling to the ground - life's little pleasures! Ian was a little cagey about having his photo taken and checked the background first as a result of yesterday's photo (see yesterday's post).

Manda sitting on carpet of leaves in Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

As we walked back to the hostel, Ian spotted my missing glove lying on the side of the road. Result! I went from having to replace hat and gloves to having them both back by the end of the day. Now how many times does that happen?