Friday, 31 March 2017

A stroll around Christchurch and drive to the beaches of Akaroa

PHIL: Day 45/31 March

Downtown Christchurch (a clone of the UK)
A brief tour of central Christchurch where the Anglican cathedral has pre-Easter concert practice underway. Quite a modern piece which we don’t recognize but nicely performed. 

Allie remarks on the very British street- and place- names (including some such as Sydenham and Belfast, which belie the origin of the country’s main immigrant stock).

We fail to buy a book on the (many) golf courses in NZ to give to Allie’s dad as a birthday present because the few which exist seem all to be out of stock.

Drive to Akaroa
Akaroa beckons: a pretty, if touristy, town on the stark Banks Peninsula. Although only an hour’s drive from Christchurch, this seaside settlement formed the beginnings of a French toehold in New Zealand early in the 19th century before being taken over first by the Maoris and then the British. 

Quaintly the street and shop names reflect a past of which residents are obviously proud, even to the extent of tricolours everywhere. There’s even a French Cemetery, though it has been rather unimaginatively restored in recent times.

On returning to our hosts they are keen for us to watch the newly-released video of the film ‘Borat’. As the ‘plot’ unreels it is clear that Andy and Rachel’s liberal tendencies extend to their 9-year-old son watching a very unrestrained piece of (admittedly hilarious) black humour. By the end we are mildly shocked and have aching stomach muscles, concluding that Baron Cohen must have considerable ‘balls’ to have made the film. 

ALLIE: DAY 45: Saturday, 31st of March

Exploring Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula

Anglican church in Christchurch
Slept well and didn’t hear the possum on the roof! Phil and I set off to walk a bit around Christchurch in the morning. We expected a rather busy town, but everything seems to be very laid back and quiet. 

So quiet that we have a hard time in finding the ‘lonely planet’ for New Zealand or a golfing book for my dad. But we visit the lovely old Anglican Church and have a stroll around the centre of town.

I find it rather spoilt by many modern buildings from the 70ies like it’s the case in so many cities in Europe.

I am itching to head out for the countryside and so we drive the 80km out towards the South heading for the little French town of Akaroa in the Banks Peninsula. 

The roads lead us past the huge lake of Ellesmere and then across a very windy pass before we reach the summit and take a break at the Hill top coffee bar. Fantastic views over the bay of Akaroa. The similarity with the Lake District in England is amazing. Barren hills, a few pine trees, cottages and the blue waters that could be lake Windermere!

over the pass to Akaroa
Akaroa is filled with cyclists that have just finished their race from Christchurch to here. Lovely sunshine tempts me to brave the waves and I jump into the 16 degrees cold sea. 

But whilst my husband would hate it, I definitely enjoy the cold shock and the exercise!  A stroll along the harbour front reminds us of the first settlers to this little fishing town. 

They were French. Had these settlers arrived 20 years earlier, the Banks Peninsula might well have been a French colony. 

But as it was, the Brits were here already and had made their claim. Nevertheless, the many pubs and restaurants and even street names are a heritage of the French and so we walk along ‘rue du Jolie’ and eat at the ‘patisserie’.
The pretty coast and harbour at Akaroa
Back to Andys house we are welcomed by Champagne and fresh oysters (hm my delight but Phils plight!). Rachel cooks a delicious meal with grilled chicken, couscus and ratatouille. 

Later that evening we end up in watching the hilarious DVD called ‘Borat’. It’s actually not suitable for children under 16 because of it’s language (again a lot of f,b, and s words) and it’s contents ('she has a vagina like a wizards sleeve!') but the Nicholsons don’t seem to mind that their kids also stay up to watch.

We adults laugh our socks off and I am amazed by the courage of the producers and the actor that have dared to create such a provocative film knowing that nearly everybody would try to sue them – which indeed they did!

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