Hanmer Springs to Christchurch
The alarm clock squawked at 06:45 and was promptly shut off, though when I got up to look for the telephone I discovered it’s inside the private area of Cheltenham House. Ah well, I used the opportunity to check out the local weather.
The sun hadn’t shown itself yet, but there would be no problem seeing him as the mountains shed their grey woolen caps and scarves sometime during the night. Frost lay over the lawn and stone wall, with crystal clear skies above.
Breakfast is served in one’s room at Cheltenham House, actually quite nice the way they are set up. However, it occurs to me that I’m skipping over some things, specifically the evening prior.
There is a full-size billiard table in the billiards room at Cheltenham House. We saw one in the Olveston House in Dunedin, but there we couldn’t play on the table. Les encourages use of this table. Herself and I set the table up for a game of snooker, by reading the rules posted on the wall. We didn’t do too badly, all the balls were more or less in their proper place. Excepting that we were partially backwards.
With a little help from other guests, the table was soon reset and we commenced our lesson in how to play snooker. All of this during the evening wine tasting and guest introductions, a daily event at Cheltenham House in the evening, before going out to dinner. Except that, we were promptly informed, we couldn’t leave until the game of snooker was over.
It took us until 21:30 to sink the last of the red balls, at which point, we each conceded the game to the other. Then we retired for the evening.
After breakfast I rang up the folks at Whale Watch back in Kaikoura. They informed me the first tour’s had gone out, but that the winds were backing to the north-east and strengthening. By 10:30 the chances of a tour going out would be 50:50. We elected to cancel the booking and put that on our growing list of good reasons to return to New Zealand.
So the remainder of our morning passed quite leisurely, taking the opportunity to photograph certain elements of Cheltenham House. The front of the house; showing our room, and the entire house. The back of the house, showing the two rooms in the cottages. The proprietors, Jess and Phoebe (their dog and cat, respectively). The billiard table... and the billiard room, of course.
[ Cheltenham House. Phoebe is apparently still with them, however, Jess has passed on and now Geordie, another golden Labarador is the new proprietor... ]
We were none the less packed by 10:00, though we sat about in the garden a bit longer. Then we hit the road again, driving out of Hanmer Springs en route to Christchurch.
Not far outside of Hanmer Springs is another of the many one-lane bridges we’ve come to know so well, this one called the Waiau Ferry Bridge. It is an historic under-strutted cantilevered wrought iron bridge fabricated on site and opened 6 August, 1887. This bridge replaced a wooden bridge built on the same site by one Henry Handysides, which was destroyed in a Nor’ Western gale in 1874.
Now, above and beyond the fabulous view here, there are two other reasons why I’ve made such extensive notes about this particular bridge. First, 6 August is Herself’s birthday. Second, as we went by we decided to stop and photograph the fabulous view. It being a one-lane bridge, we needed to wait for a Britz Rental camper van to clear the bridge, which took some time for some reason...
Anyway, we stopped at the nearby Jet Boat, Tramping Tours, Bungee Jumps place, and walked up to a vantage point to photograph the bridge and the gorge it crosses. There we discovered someone about to bungee jump, so we prepared to photograph the event. This same Britz Rental camper van kept appearing while in the preparation phases for this jump, and even stopped on the bridge during the jump.
I’ve two or three good shots of the jump itself, we shall see when the film is processed. Then, while I pursued a couple of other scenic shots, Herself started back to the car. On the way, she discovered we’d been witness to an advertising photo shoot, staged with the rental camper on the bridge quite deliberately to advertise Britz.
I wonder if I can sell them copies of my pictures?
Once done with the excitement, we continued down the road. This time it’s quite literally down as well, since we shed altitude on our return to the Canterbury Plains. We paused for lunch at the Canterbury House Winery, then continued on the rest of the way into Christchurch. Despite traffic, and one slight detour because of said traffic, we pulled into the lot next to Croydon House by 15:30.
There we buzzed to our hosts in the back, S and N H, and announced, “It’s Tom and Herself, we’re home!” We unloaded the boot and the back seat into our room (the same we’d enjoyed during the innocent week of World Conference on the Care of the Patient in Surgery).
And so we’ve come full oval. I would say circle, but the South Island does have a noticeable long axis. My notes show the odometer reading as 2,926.9 kilometers since departure on 10 September. We’ve met more wonderful people, seen remarkable sights, been touched by kindness in the face of madness, faced penguins on their nesting grounds, cruised on a fjord, visited places with names significant for personal reasons, climbed to the center of New Zealand, and discovered that dogs are the same the world around, they all love to ride with their heads out the car windows.
I photographed the flag in the winery because. Because this instance proved the most recent of something we'd seen every since 9/11. For the first few days after the event, the New Zealand flag flew at half-mast everywhere we saw it. Look to the photographs from 15 Sept. in Te Anau for one example. Somewhen about then is when George Bush made his comments about not doing that, about honouring the victims by continuing about our business, and the New Zealand flag (probably other countries as well) went back to the top of the flagstaff.
But. Any place we saw the U.S. flag flown, it flew at half-mast, or draped with black crepe (seen on the porch flagstaff of a farmhouse far out into the wop-wops and I wonder to this day did that family own a U.S. Flag before 9/11), or as in that winery, folded and draped respectfully. Far from home yet not alone, a nation not our own mourned with us. Yes, New Zealand lost some of their own in that incident as well.
I remember the public discussions and the news. I remember the Australian Prime Minister invoking the ANZUS treaty, saying someone attached the US, and so they attacked Australia as well. I remember Aussies giving the Kiwis flak about that, and the New Zealand Prime Minister responded 'We've offered the US intelligence information and SAS services.' Considering the size of the NZ military (considering the size of New Zealand), and considering the quality of the NZ SAS services, that is a lot.
We did, literally, say into the intercom at Croydon House 'We're home' when we got there. After two weeks of so much new every day, going into someplace familiar (even by a week) felt like getting home. Familiar, comfortable. The next day, N worked in the garden between the main house and the cottage (where our room was located), and then hosted a respite in the afternoon with wine and cheese. Something they did every summer, she said.
I remember, it felt like home.
I found a photograph on Flickr yesterday, of Croydon House after the February earthquake. I knew the area, we'd walked through that whole City Centre area during our stay there and knew it as well as any visitor of a week and a half could. I knew the probability to be high the earthquake touched them as well. A month or so after the quake, maybe a bit more, their web site came down.
About a quarter of one exterior wall of the main house is down in the photograph I found. They experienced a tremendous degree of liquifaction on Armagh Street there, with what looked like 30 cm (1 ft) of mud in the road, over the sidewalk. I've no idea whether or not they intend to repair or re-open as a B&B. I can only wish them well.
It's been a decade. We spent a week and a half in Chch, and two and a half driving around South Island. And it felt like home by the end of the trip.
I ended the travelogue with this entry. No more e-mails home, though I did continue making journal entries about the trip. I may post those as well. This one is a day late, because yesterday (as noted) we lost power on the Ranch and the words to post are on computer, not my SmartPhone. Posting it, though, provides some completion to a goal, to do a ten-year retrospective.
'...Ten years have got behind you, no one told you when to run. You've missed the starting gun...'
Or not. Old news, perhaps, this retrospective. Then again, maybe not so much old. What things changed for me then, that it's taken me the interviening 10 years to begin realising? I called that month the Month Immersion In Photography, after an educational thing done for nurses interested in health care, nursing informatics, called the Weekend Immersion In Informatics. Out of 28 days spent in New Zealand, at least 25 involved photography, planned, though-about photography.
Following that trip, a number of aspects of my own photography changed. Progress made on a long-term plan to slowly migrate from one 'job' to another. What a long, strange trip it's been.
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