From the Oceanic Discoverer in New Zealand
Jan 17, 2013 - Oceanic Discoverer
Awoke this morning alongside the pier in Wellington, an early breakfast in time to make our connection with the ferry for our trip across Cook Straight to the South Island. In through the Marlborough Sound’s traveling up Queen Charlotte Sound to the ferry terminal at Picton.
Ship Gove at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound is one of the most historic sites in New Zealand which Captain Cook visited on no fewer than five times. So glowing were Cook’s comments around this area, his favourite place, that for the next fifty years the English thought of New Zealand in terms of his description of Queen Charlotte. Even today two hundred years later the area still has the same effect upon people, the water, the bush, the sea-birds, the semi-isolation.
Lunch is on the waterfront at Picton, after which we boarded the well-appointed Coastal Pacific train which is noted as one of the great train journeys of the world. The first segment of the journey is through the major wine growing area in the country. Along the way many of us took the opportunity to photograph from the open-sided observation car, especially along the Kaikoura coast where large numbers of New Zealand fur seals were seen on the rocky coastline.
Arrived in Christchurch early evening to be taken on a short tour and on to our hotel for the evening.
Christchurch is known as the Garden City with its many gardens and internationally recognised botanical gardens. It was settled by the English in 1850 as an Episcopal Church settlement, previously known as the most English city outside of Britain and for its many neo-gothic buildings. Unfortunately in 2011-2012 it was hit by a series of earthquake, and even today small aftershocks are still being felt. A short tour brought home to all of us the effect this has had upon the city landscape. But even as we write the city is arising afresh with a vision for the future: “A Green, User Friendly, Central City Area.”