In search of English and French history

Trip Start Aug 17, 2003
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Trip End Jun 04, 2004


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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, March 7, 2004

And so from Dunedin it was on to another city... On the way up the coast there wasn't really much to stop at, so not much to tell, although we did have a while at the Moeraki Boulders. These are almost perfectly spherical rocks on the beach, which are really quite amazing. They were apparently formed in the same way that pearls are formed in oysters - sediment hardening around a particle. They formed underneath the soft stone of the coastline and were slowly revealed as the stone was worn away.

Christchurch itself is supposed to be a very english town, built by the original settlers according to a very specific "english" pattern. It certainly had some areas which seemed incredibly english, with very oxbridge college style architecture, especially at Christ's College school and the Arts Centre. I ended up staying a long time in Christchurch - much longer really than necessary because I was meeting people from home. It was lovely to see them, but I really ran out of things to do there!!!

One of the tourist attractions as it were is a guy called the Wizard, who apparently described himself in a recent census as a "living work of art". Every day at 1, he stands on a stepladder in the cathedral square and rants. His favourite topics are women and christians, neither of which he is particularly keen on, and are apparently the cause of all the world's problems.... Quite amusing to while away a bit of time anyway!!!

For a couple of days, Isabelle and I went over to Akaroa, which was the french settlement in New Zealand - if they'd been just a couple of months earlier, they would all be speaking francais! But instead the Brits got there first. Akaroa is supposed to be the last bastion of frenchness in NZ, but I was quite disappointed with how little there was. With the exception of a few street names, a couple of tricolores flying and a smattering of "Cafe Eiffel" and similar, it really wasn't very french at all.

The biggest problem with our visit to Akaroa was the weather - once again it absolutely threw it down, and so we weren't really too interested in borrowing bikes and exploring the Banks Peninsula and other options there. We did force ourselves to have a walk around the town, including some amazing art shops, but other than that we were slightly pathetic. Partly because we were staying in the most gorgeous hostel, which really did feel like home, so it was much more comfortable to stay there in the warm, doing jigsaws, reading magazines and generally relaxing!
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