A very leisurely start to the morning meant that Karen didn't even wake up until 8.15am. We were all sorted and checked out of the room by 10am. We had arranged to leave our bags at the motel and wandered to catch a very efficient bus service into the City Centre.
Chrsitchurch had a very different feel to it today. Somehow it seemed more vibrant and alive. Certainly there were more people about and more shops were open. The weather being brighter and sunny also helped. I liked it and it was a feeling that grew as the day wore on. I kept reflecting upon how hasty I had been in condemning the place the previous week.
We wandered along the now pleasantly buzzing streets and found the still standing (but only just) Cathedral. After a caffeine fix for Karen in a Robert Harris coffee shop (a NZ chain like Starbucks - but better in my opinion), we walked to the Botanic Gardens.
They were lovely. Plants that we have in our garden and struggle to survive were all flourishing and in bloom. There were boats punting along the river and it was all like a beautiful English scene but with a Kiwi twist. We stumbled across the Gardens cafe which was buzzing with customers, yet still exhumed a relaxed atmosphere. We sat outside and had some well earned toasted Salmon bagels.
After this we strolled to the Canterbury Museum on the edge of the Gardens. I think the word museum conjures up a stuffy image. This certainly wasn't and as an added bonus it had free admission! The highlight for me was an exhibition of the National Geographic 50 best photos.
We then walked to where the World Busking Festival was taking place. This was a hive of activity and we stood and watched a couple of performers. We would liked to have stayed longer.
After this we went to the new state of the art bus station which was very impressive and caught the Yellow line bus back to the motel, where we had arranged for the owner to take us to the airport.
I am genuinely sad to now be leaving NZ. We have both absolutely loved the country and the people. The weather has played a large part in this. As one ex pat described the summers here are longer and lovelier, with the winters being shorter and milder. I could live here. We won't, but we could. The fact that everywhere is quieter is wonderful and also that the fact that even in a big city like Christchurch you can be in absolute wilderness within a 10 minute drive is amazing.
What we have also learnt is that there is opportunities for everyone. Opportunities for employment, progression and home ownership which simply do not seem to exist back in the UK. I can understand why people make the big move here. The heartache of leaving family and friends is the common theme amongst people we have spoken to. For us it would be a deal breaker. I can see that it would be great for our boys if they ever wanted to do it though it would break our hearts.
And so, onto Oz. The whole airport checkin process was very smooth as was the actual flight itself. I watched The Big Sick and really enjoyed it as it was my type of film. The shuttle from the airport to the hotel was not so smooth and left us this time wishing we had paid the extra for a taxi.