14 Feb 2016

Over The Mtn's & Thru The Woods - NZL by valeriepeltier

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We bussed downtown today to the core of Christchurch, expecting it to be a big city, since it claimed to be the second largest city in New Zealand. Surprisingly it was actually a nice size, with very few tall buildings and a lot less busy than the cities we had been visiting in Australia.
The bus station was more like a greyhound terminal where busses pulled into bays where people sat waiting inside, for their proper colour coded bus. Each route had a different coloured bus, which made it simple to know if it was your bus coming down the road or not.

We wandered in the general direction of the botanical gardens walking along a gravel path following what was called the river of flowers. It had a very appropriate name considering there were heaps of gardens and green areas surrounding it. Our first stop was in the rose gardens. It was a fantastic maze of flower beds filled with roses and many other types of flowers that seemed to compliment one another around every turn. Lauren and I took separate paths winding our way through and eventually meeting up in the middle. It was nice to explore the gardens alone, and since there were very few other people around it really made the experience special, allowing your thoughts to wander and reminisce.

When we crossed the bridge we stopped to take a look at the map of the gardens so we could figure out which areas we wanted to explore. First we started with the rock garden, moving on to NZ gardens and on to the watering hole.
By the time we reached the watering hole hunger was beginning to set in, so we figured that once we finished wandering through the pond area we would sit down for lunch in the shade. As we wandered along the edge of the pond we rounded a corner where the path led us to this picturesque stone bridge with a bench off to the side. It was a gorgeous spot so we decided it would be a nice spot to stop for lunch.
During the entire time we sat on the bench the ducks continued to swim up to the waters edge in front of us, proceeding to waddle up to us and hang around the area. One of the ducks even waddled its way across the stone bridge on to the other side just in order to hop back in the river and swim over to us again.
When we finished and began to pack up our things Lauren saw a bird and wandered down the trail about 20ft. On her way back she paused in order to observe a snail attempting to make its way across the path.
We both went back over to it to get a photo and as we were kneeling down on the ground immersed in our photos and the journey of this snail, the entire ground began to move beneath us. We looked at each other as this floating sensation ran through our bodies.
The earthquake didn't last for long, but still long enough for your mind to race to every possible scenario. When the ground stopped shaking we sat there crouched down for a few seconds before hearing a man on a microphone tell everyone to stay where they are, repeating it several times. We stayed put for a few minutes before continuing exploring the gardens. We found out later that the earthquake we had felt was a 5.9 on the Richter scale, and that it was large enough for most of the town shops to be shut down for the day due to damage from items falling off the shelves.
We were originally going to explore the Cantaburry museum but due to the damage from the quake it was closed down.
Instead we walked over to Cathedral Square to see the remaining of the standing structure of the Cathedral from the last big earthquake Christchurch had undergone several years earlier.

Back at the hostel our roommates asked if we were okay when we entered the door, because while we were gone, the earthquake was centred closer to New Brighton where our hostel was, and the building was evacuated. Thankfully no damage was done other than a few things falling over and off the shelves.
About an hour or so later, Lauren and I were busy planning logistics for the next few destinations on our list in our room when the next large earthquake happened, this time I believe around a 4.7. We hopped off the bed in no time since it was a bunk bed and sat low to the ground waiting for it to pass.
There have been no more large ones since, and we are hoping that there will be no more, especially during the night.