The city of Christchurch is one of those places with a very European sense and feel. We felt as though we had stepped through the time capsule to a place in a Charles Dickens novel. Much of the original architecture has been preserved. The town square is simply charming. We booked into a beautiful studio for three nights that was close to the town center yet far enough away from the late night partygoers. There is a lot to do in this town for just about anyone of any age.
On the first day we walked to the vast Botanical Gardens. They were as diverse as any we had seen. Earl and Marsha are flower growers in California, so they were really in Heaven, and took off in one direction as Frank and I just meandered on our own. We spent hours walking the paths that took us from one eye feast to another. The rose gardens were gorgeous! Throughout the entire place were species of trees from every corner of the world, and some were massive. The interactive herbivorous plant house was straight out of "Little Shop of Horrors" – we loved it. Frank and I are not big horticulturists, yet we enjoyed these gardens immensely. We eventually arrived at a very large clearing where a stage was being set up for one of the free summer series concerts and so we settled in for the show. I have forgotten her name now, but the singer was a young woman from Iceland. She was incredibly talented, had a very strange tattoo of a vine winding down the side of her face, with the voice of an angel. She sang in English then performed in her native Icelandic tongue. Following the concert we left the gardens and strolled through a couple of museums of which there are many, then we ended our day at one of Christchurch's many sidewalk restaurants.
Tuesday was a big day for me. My nephew, Scotty Johnson is a college kid who decided to study in Sydney, Australia for his Spring (their Fall) semester, beginning his trip with an 8-day adventure to New Zealand with a group of fellow students. As fate would have it, Scotty would be coming to Christchurch on the 23rd, for just one night. He wouldn't be arriving until 4:30 in the afternoon so we busied ourselves about town. We took the old fashioned street car tour of the city, learning detailed historical facts, seeing much of the city's varied architecture, historical points of interest and spotting our own points of interest for exploring later on our own. It really is a lovely place full of rich history and culture. Close to 4:00 we made our way over to a café adjacent to the hostel that would house the student group for the night. We could hear them coming before we saw a large motor coach rounding the corner full of chattering teenagers. They piled out of the bus and scurried around like ants waiting for bags and direction. He was thrilled to see us waiting there. We told him to get settled into his digs and we'd be back to pick him up for an early dinner. We took him to a good restaurant for dinner; he said this was the first real food he had eaten in weeks. Poor kid! We enjoyed spending the evening with him. I'm so proud of him! He is mostly paying for this whole semester out of his own hard earned money, and he told us that this would be a good growing up experience for him to be so far away from his immediate family. He would have to figure things out on his own without being able to just go to his Mom and Dad, who are normally just a couple hundred miles away by car. As they say in NZ, "Good on ya, Scotty!"
On Wednesday, after I spent a considerable amount of time getting some laundry done while Frank read and watch TV, we went shopping and driving around the area, then dined out at a local popular Italian restaurant. Then on Thursday we set off for Hanmer Springs.