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On February 15, 2018 we flew from Auckland to Christchurch on the south island of New Zealand.
Our friend Neal picked us up at the airport. It was good to see Neal and Denise again. Recall that the last time we were in Christchurch in 2016, he drove us around the city to show us the reconstruction that was going on there.
Christchurch had been struck by a massive earthquake in 2010 and 2011, and even after five years (2016) there were construction cranes on nearly every tall building in the city. But now most of that construction has been completed.
The problem is that in November 2016 there was another large earthquake about 100 miles north where the two islands meet. The quake literally destroyed the coastal highway north of Christchurch. The highway had been completely closed an entire year and had only recently reopened to traffic. Even then, many parts of the highway allowed only a single lane of traffic, so cars going opposite directions had to take turns.
In the photo below, workers were still trying to stabilize the rocky cliff along the shore overlooking the highway.
The earthquake had raised the earth over 30 feet (10 meters), changing the coastline. We could see the white rocks along the shore, which had been under the water before the quake.
We drove about half way up the coast to Kaikoura (kai means “food”; koura means “lobster”) and enjoyed a late lunch in this tourist town. Driving back to Christchurch, we then had our first meeting that evening and the next day at the Bowls Papanui club.
There were two bowling fields in front of the clubhouse where our meetings were held. One of the fields was being flooded (for irrigation). A sporting event was being held on the other green. Bowls is like a cross between bowling and shuffleboard, played on short grass that we might ordinarily see on a golf green.
At any rate, my friend Bryden Black and I had good meetings there.
Bryden is a former Anglican priest and theologian who was expelled by the bishop for not conforming to the established liberal view of things. He has written a couple of books. I picked up the first book the last time I saw him (in 2016), entitled, The Lion, the Dove, and the Lamb. The second book is a workbook to accompany the earlier work. (I read it on the trip home.)
Trevor came to Christchurch to visit and to drop off one of his girls at their respective colleges located near Christchurch. At the same time, Mike Fromm flew in from Brisbane (Australia) to attend the meetings and to visit with us. It was good to see him again. He and his wife came last year to one of our conferences, but even earlier, we spent a week with him, holding meetings in Brisbane and the surrounding area. (Adventures abounded.)
After our meetings Friday and Saturday, Trevor became our tour guide to the south island for the next few days. We had always wanted to see more of the beautiful south island, but had never had the time to do so in earlier trips. Our next meeting in Christchurch was scheduled for Wednesday evening at Bryden’s house, and this gave us four days to tour the island. Mike had nothing better to do, so he accompanied us as well.
So on Sunday, February 18, the four of us turned south and drove along the countryside just inland from the east coast.
At one point we stopped at a Garage Art Gallery, where we saw some very impressive works of fine art. The paintings were from actual places in New Zealand, and the artist had painted them with such detail that they looked like large photographs. They were really beautiful. I didn’t have $10,000 on me at the time, so I was unable to buy any of them for Darla. She was disappointed, but we determined to decorate our future mansion with some of the paintings.
From there we continued on our journey to beautiful Lake Tekapo, a large, clear lake formed by glacial runoff from the mountains nearby.
The town on one side of the lake was full of Asian tourists. In fact, we were surprised to see so many Asian tourists throughout New Zealand, mostly from China, Korea, and Japan. Some also come from India and other Asian countries.
An old stone Catholic church stood on a hill overlooking the lake. The attendant would not allow us to take any pictures from the inside, so as not to disrupt those who had come to pray there.
From there we headed toward Mount Cook, which stands majestically overlooking the valleys, feeding the rivers with its glacial runoff. Sir Edmund Hillary honed his climbing skills at Mount Cook before attempting Mount Everest in Tibet.
Nearby is a hotel for tourists and mountain climbers, where we stopped to take a break and to see the shop.
From there we drove a short distance up the valley and climbed the hill so that we could look at the glacier (frozen lake) on the other side. I took this picture while climbing up the hill.
After climbing 337 steps, plus inclines along the path, we looked back and could see the parking lot in the distance where we had parked the car.
On the other side, we could look down at the glacier.
According to the sign below, in 2011 this glacier was 24 km in length, down from 26 km in 1990. Though it is shrinking, it is still a large glacier.
Driving away from Mount Cook, we stopped at a dairy farm, where Trevor had built a dairy shed. The cows walk into the milking stall on the revolving platform and are milked as they go around. When they come back around, they back out and walk back out to the pasture.
Next we stopped at a lavender field, where a small stand had been set up for tourists who wanted to buy sweet-smelling lavender products made with essential oil.
Trevor also took us along a big river that powered many hydroelectric dams, each creating a lake behind it for fishing and recreation. The largest is the Aviemore Dam.
We finally arrived at our first destination to spend the night. It used to be a parsonage attached to an Anglican church (on the right), but Trevor was leasing it for his employees building dairy sheds on the south island.
Below are pictures from the inside of the front and the small pipe organ in the back.
Here is a picture of the parsonage and church from the rear.
A delicious meal had been prepared for us in the kitchen
There we spent the first night on our tour of the South Island. We awoke the next morning refreshed and ready to drive further south to Kingston, where Trevor had rented a cottage at the south end of a large lake. We stayed there for two nights, going to Queenstown and Milford Sound during the day.
(To be continued)