Monday, January 31, 2011

New Zealand & Australia 4: Christchurch

Our ship made its way south, down around the east side of the New Zealand to what the folks there call the south island, or the big island.  We stopped for a day at Christchurch, a beautiful port city about mid island, and took a short tour into the city.

The Avon river winds through the city of Christchurch.  Folks punt up and down this river here like they do on the Thames in England.

Christchurch has a beautiful park area running along the river bank, near the center of town.  This woman stood, fussing around her tripod for a long time, working to get just the perfect image. Then the seagull flew right past her head and I had to press my shutter button.  Still, her picture probably came out better than mine did.

This fountain across the river we believe represents mushroom spores.  There was a similar looking sculpture in Auckland on our tour with Antonie.  He asked us what we thought it was.  Melony suggested mushroom spores and he replied that in all the time he had been doing this tour, no one but Melony had ever guessed correctly.

Formal gardens, running along the river almost directly behind where the photo above was taken, added a nice splash of color to the overcast day.

I don't know what this plant is called.  I'd never seen one before.  They reminded me of a brush stuck on top of an asparagus stalk.

Here are some yellow ones.  I asked the tour bus driver how Christchurch got its name.  He thought a bit and replied that it was named after an English town, but he had no idea where it was.

I looked up Christchurch, England, gotta love Google maps, and discovered that it's a small port town on the south coast of England, west of London.

  Everyone I have ever spoken with who has spent time on the south island of New Zealand raves about it.  This is especially true of Christchurch.  Now I could see why.  It looked to me as though Christchurch could easily have eclipsed its namesake.

Christchurch is a main shipping hub for New Zealand.  The tour bus stopped on a hillside overlook so that we could get a nice view of our ship.  What impressed me was the number of containers being moved about.

We spent a very enjoyable lunch hour after returning from our tour, watching the yellow machines scurrying around, moving containers on and off of trains, on and off of trucks, stacking containers, reorganizing them.  There were at least twenty of the machines.  One of them, on its way to fetch a container, can be seen in the right side of the picture.

The machines straddle the containers, then a hooking device drops down from the top and lifts them up.  The machine then carries the container to where ever it needs to go.  Here, three of them are working among the sea of containers in the Christchurch port.  The middle machine has just lifted a small container and is preparing to pull it out of that stack.

Then, a bell rang around 3pm, and all the machines stopped working and congregated in the upper right corner of the picture.  We guessed they were all having tea.  Fifteen or twenty minutes later, the bell rang again and they scattered around the dock area like so many happy worker ants.

One of our tour guides mentioned that New Zealand has more water craft per capita than any other country on earth.  It's no wonder, given that they are surrounded by so much water.  At any rate, the two fishermen on this boat hung around for a bit when it was time for us to leave, and watched us pull away from the pier.

After another fabulous dinner in the formal dining room, we returned to our cabin and watched the sun go down, lighting up these lone clouds over calm seas.

Next time, we visit Dunedin on the south island.
Continue on to Post 5: Dunedin and Seal Beach by clicking here.


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