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Historic Churches And The Dinner Tram

Mama always said I’d go to hell if I didn’t change my ways.

Our next big adventure in Christchurch was to hit downtown and see some of the sights there. You may or may not be aware but Christchurch endured two earthquakes about 8 years ago. The first was a 7.1 magnitude quake that hit in early September 2010 and the second, a 6.2, hit a couple of months later in February 2011. They did massive damage to this historic town and 185 lives were lost. These days they call Christchurch “A City In Mourning” because it still hasn’t quite recovered from the damage. This is rather evident as you travel about the city. Of all of the places we’ve visited so far this city had more homeless people and lots of gang tagging everywhere. It’s quite sad to see and hear how these quakes affected this once vibrant, historical city.

With all of this damage many of their most beautiful and historic buildings were lost. One of the most significant is the ChristChurch Cathedral. Apparently there was a lot of debate about whether or not to restore it and finally they have agreed to do so. During our stay here we had an opportunity to view the dilapidated church. It is really a somber sight but the fact that it’s being restored brings hope that the city will someday recover from these disasters.

As you can see, the old cathedral experienced a lot of damage. We’re thrilled to see they are working to restore it.

With one of the city’s main churches out of commission the city needed to do something to help people to heal so they built a transitional cathedral called the Cardboard Cathedral. A Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, designed this cathedral and it’s really quite something to see. It’s an A-frame that rises 79 feet to the peak. The beams are made of 86 cardboard tubes reinforced with wood beams. The ceiling is polycarbonate and the walls are made from eight shipping containers. Even the cross at the alter is made of cardboard. No, it’s not meant to last forever, rather to last for 50 years. The point it to show that post disaster buildings can be built quickly and last long enough to allow a city to transition back into some sort of normalcy. It is definitely something interesting to see.

We also visited a quaint little street with shops and restaurants. We stopped and had an ice cream cone and even ran into a statue of Grape Ape. Who knew they were aware of him down here in Kiwi Country?

For dinner we had a very special evening planned. We had reservations on the Christchurch Tramway Restaurant. At $109 NZD per person it could be considered a bit pricey but this was a fabulous experience. I mean, what could be more fun that having a four star dinner aboard a streetcar while riding around the city? Yes, this was pretty cool and the food was absolutely brilliant. They started us off with the chef’s appetizer of the day then followed that with our choice of salad or ahi tuna. After that you had a choice of one of their amazing main courses and then there was dessert. OH MY! I had the chocolate mousse cake and it was literally to die for! And the city at night was so awesome. It was like having dinner with an ever changing view. The driver offered historical information as we passed through town and the waiters and waitresses were spot on! Yes, this was definitely one of the best things we’ve done so far. This was a treat we will never forget.

We’ve sure enjoyed our stay here but they say, “All good things must sometime end” and for us this is it. Tomorrow we head north to Aogatete where we have an other amazing evening planned….a night at Hobbiton! From there it’s back to Whangarei and then Auckland where alas, our wonderful three week journey will end. It certainly has been a once in a lifetime adventure with amazing friends.


Captain Dan & Jilly

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Road Tripping Dazzler Style!

It probably sounds funny to say that we are going to be taking a vacation. Most of you probably look at us and think we are on a permanent vacation right? Well, as you’ve seen lately we do spend a lot of time working on the boat and sometimes it’s just nice to get away for a change. That said, it’s time for the Dazzler crew to take to the land and see more of this amazing country.

Our dear friends, Mary and Jack will be here tomorrow and we will be taking a three week tour of the South Island here in New Zealand. If you’ve been following us for a while you know Jack is our friend who arranged to get our new Honda generator, also named Jack, to us in Nuka Hiva. He and his dear wife are two of our best friends and we can’t wait to explore New Zealand with them. We’ve booked Air B&B’s to stay in along the way and we’re all ready for a few weeks of fun and adventure….landlubber style! By the way, if you come to NZ and you want to travel, Air B&B IS the way to go. Hotels we looked at along the way were rather costly, the range of $200 NZ per couple, per night or more. The homes we’ve book are two or three bedroom homes and are $170-$210 per night for all four of us! And since we will be in homes with full kitchens we won’t have to eat out the entire time. We do love a good dinner out but sometimes it gets old. Of course there’s thee added bonus of having comfortable space around where we can all relax and enjoy each other rather than having to sit in some hotel lounge or crowd into a room and sit on the beds. We’ll provide a link to Air B&B for each home we stay and and we’ll be sure to let you know the pros and cons of each place.

Our journey will take us over 1000 miles south from Whangarei to Queenstown and then back again. We will be visiting geothermal pools and mud ponds in Rotorua, experience a true Hangi dinner with a Māori tribe, tour the Glowworm Caves of Waitomo via boat, have dinner on a streetcar while touring Christchurch, explore Hokitika and its artsy side, visit Hobbiton, the move set where the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, see the Southern Alps and much more.

And as a special treat the owner, Vajin Armstrong, of Gandharva Loka, a music store in Christchurch, is actually making special arrangements to open up just for the Dazzler Crew so Jilly can pick up a couple of tin whistles and maybe some other interesting instruments. Can’t wait to see all the unique instruments Vajin has to offer.

Yes, this journey is sure to be an amazing one full of laughs, awesome adventures and lots of beautiful sights. We sure hope you’ll follow along to learn about this awesome country and all of the incredible people who live here.

Away We Go!

See you down the road. Cheers!

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan