The beginning of our stay in the broken city
Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
61Trip End Oct 01, 2015
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The final leg of our journey (for now) ended in Christchurch, after a quick toilet stop at salmon world - yep they actually have salmon world - we arrived.
We'd booked a private room in our hostel as our next few days were going to be busy ones- that and we'd had enough of dorms. We checked in, emptied our bags and headed out without the fear that anyone was going to go through our stuff or that it was in anyone's way! Our first task was to get some clothes for our interviews the following day. We were directed by our hostel to a store called save mart. So off we headed and soon found ourselves in the middle of an industrial estate at a huge warehouse style building. We went in and found ourselves in a very well organised charity shop, clothes were colour coded, all the dresses, jackets, trousers were in there own sections, smart and casual were separated it was awesome and we managed to get a suit jacket, shirt, trousers and a wooly jumper (not that smart but we liked it) for less than $20! We then headed over to the Westfield mall in a suburb called ricarton for some cheap shoes and managed to find the NZ version of primark!
It had been a very successful day all in all!
We'd also seen for the first time the massive destruction caused by the earthquake, you hear about natural disasters across the world on tv or the Internet but nothing can prepare you for the reality of seeing it first hand.
The whole of Christchurch city is gone, massive areas are cordoned off, there's no bars, restaurants, shops, offices. Houses along with commercial buildings are boarded up and abandoned, whole streets are nothing but rubble. It's as if you are on a movie set, and you just cannot imagine that this was new Zealand's 2nd biggest city before that awful day. Insurance payouts have been slow and few and far between and so building work hasn't even started yet on the majority of the areas. A mixture of fresh and old flowers hang from the fencing that has been put up around some buildings and churches have made makeshift areas for people to use for worship and prayer. We also noticed the shipping containers, the innovative answer to christchurch businesses wanting to carry on their trade.
It's something im not sure we will ever get used to as we stay here for longer but something that will also play a big role in our time here as we try to find work helping with the re build!
That night we had our first viewing of a house share. It was way out of the city in a residential area called hoon hay and not somewhere we could see ourselves living at all, the house and the girl seemed nice enough but there was nothing but houses around, we began to have our doubts about what we were doing, if the city is gone then it's only the suburbs that are left to live in!
The following morning we headed off to meet with the recruitment agency and got some great news as Tai was offered to start work straight away on Tuesday as a labourer and I was booked in for an interview on the Thursday. We were also told of a website that everyone uses for house sharing advertisements so stopped in at the library on our way back where we found a lot more on offer, we picked those that seemed the most suitable and txt them when we left, only to receive the same response over and over- sorry no couples!
We still had another viewing arranged though in lyttleton and we felt positive having heard it was a cool place.
We headed over there - it's about 45 minutes out of the city by a port, as the bus arrived we found ourselves facing the aftermath of the huge earthquake yet again , lyttleton being the epicentre town was obviously quite badly hit and our first sights were of yet more closed and abandoned buildings. After walking around however we were excited to find a street lined with alternative bohemian style bars, restaurants and shops. This was more like it and we were excited to look around the flat. First Impressions were good, original wooden floorboards, a country style kitchen opening out onto a little courtyard garden and it was above a health food shop selling all different kinds of tofu! The room was nice and big, then we went into the lounge which they'd split with an old sarong behind which was a bed. That's where I sleep said the girl- it was in the lounge.. But the lounge was still used as a lounge, it was a strange set up. The girls did seem nice but we knew it wouldn't work living there plus they wanted $250 a week for the rent. It was back to the drawing board, we headed back to the hostel and bought some Internet and spent the next few hours messaging lots and lots of ads on trademe. Unfortunately there was nothing else in lyttleton so we tried a few in neighbouring sumner- our kayaking guide in Abel Tasman had recommended it - along with places in the suburbs of riccarton, addington and merivale where we had another viewing with an estate agent the next morning.
We got the same response again and again and again - sorry no couples.
We were beginning to get extremely disheartened and considered looking at 1 bed places or even starting our own house share. The final one on the list in sumner though said ideal for couples as has own entrance, we txt immediately and got a response arranging a viewing for the next day!
The next day we got up early and went to meet the estate agent at a house in merivale, the photos had shown a modern pristine home, the reality was something that resembled a crack den with overflowing ash trays, stained furniture and carpets and dishes piled high on the kitchen sides. We knew immediately it wasn't for us, the agent told us of another cleaner property in riccarton and offered to take us there, where we shared a car with her, a lot of rubbish and a huge doberman called wolfgang!
The house was beautiful and we decided if the house in sumner wasn't suitable we'd take it.
Everything was closed being good Friday so although slightly early we headed to sumner to have a look around. We couldn't believe it as we arrived and found ourselves in a beautiful seaside town, the destruction of the earthquake was noticeable here still- some houses had fallen off the cliff which rose up behind the town and a couple of shops were shut, but generally everything was up and running still and the town was busy. We headed to the beach which was awesome, some parts were scattered with drift wood, some parts had soft sand, there was plenty of room to sit and there was people surfing in the sea.
We were both really excited and kept our fingers crossed that the house would be nice. Naturally we got some fish and chips for lunch and then headed off to meet the guy, he came down to meet us at the bottom of the track that the house is situated on. There's no car access only a small cable car which provides access to 10 houses!
We knew straight away this is where we wanted to live, we showed us round his beautiful house which sits on the hills at the back of the town and has amazing views out across the water. The room on offer actually has its own entrance a bathroom that no one else would use and it's own deck area again with epic views. There was a vegetable patch in the garden, a big open plan lounge and kitchen - he even has a big telescope for star gazing - and 2 more bedrooms upstairs! He told us to let him know if we were interested - ever impatient (sarah) we said straight away we were! He told us he'd promised one other couple the opportunity to look round and would let us know by Sunday! 2 days of torture were to follow!
We headed back to the beach - a 5 minute walk - and spoke non stop about what we thought would happen - well I did - tai just kept asking if we could talk about something else and just to wait and see what happens!
We headed to the nearest beach bar and had a quick drink and then had a look on the local notice board where we found 2 more advertisements for rooms, one said we could come over straight away- the other the following day. We headed to the address which happened to be in a house on the road next to the beach, we were welcomed by an extremely laid back guy who pretty much let us show ourselves round. We left feeling very confused as it was also a nice house and the guy had been so friendly and it was literally on the other side of the road from the beach!
We headed back to the city and to the local cinema where we tried to watch a film tai wanted to see called rust and bone, it was sold out though so we went to another and booked tickets to see the host- the only film on offer that we hadn't seen. We had a couple of hours to kill and so went and got some noodles in a Vietnamese restaurant just round the corner. The noodles were ace, the film not so much!
The next day we had a little lie in and went back to the Westfield and bought tai some clothes for him to wear and ruin at work on Tuesday! We then jumped on the bus and made our way back over to sumner, we viewed another house on the hill and met another incredibly friendly potential roommate. Sumner was definitely where we wanted to be and although our first choice was still the first house we would of been happy with any of the 3! We had lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach before heading back to the city, where we went to the re:start mall. A mall in the heart of the city made from shipping containers which house some cool alternative stores and street food. It's been nice having a few days to explore the city we will be calling home for the next few months and getting a chance to find the places we like the most.
We were also back in time to go and see rust and bone at a tiny cinema (it only had 4 rows of seats) near our hostel- note to self and anyone reading - dont go and see this film unless you like really really sexual French films! I was cringing the whole way through- a side from these horrible scenes it was actually shot quite beautifully - still I would never watch it again! We walked back to the hostel in silence!
Once there we ate dinner and found ourselves a jigsaw puzzle to keep ourselves entertained for the next couple of nights- much better than the horrible film!
That brings us to today- this morning involved wandering around trying to find some shops that would be open - we had no food at all - everywhere was shut being Easter Sunday except an incredibly expensive corner shop where we had to stock up on food for the next couple of days. We then puzzled some more and as we were doing so played our playlist hoping it would bring us some luck on the house front. At about lunch time 3 texts came through all at once - the 1st was from Tai's work confirming details for tuesday and the next was from the 1st sumner house - this is what it said - "the place is yours if your still keen, the other people offered more but I liked you guys so welcome to your new home, should be all good for tomorrow!" we were so happy, there's also so much room which means people can come stay and not get in the others' way as well!
We headed to the bus station to check Tai's bus routes for work and then found an ale house where we got lunch and a drink to celebrate! Right now we are back at the hostel puzzling, tai is just crashing after a sugar high consisting of Easter eggs and skittles and I'm about to finish the jigsaw and the start packing. Tonight will hopefully be our last night in a hostel for a long time!