We left Dunedin after a quick McMuffin as we wanted to spend some extra time in Christchurch before our early flight to Melbourne, Australia the next morning. Unfortunately our extra time was eaten up when yours truly forgot an IPhone in the motel room. What's a few hundred extra kilometres??? The drive was pleasant with rolling hills, lots of dairy and beef herds intermixed with small older communities. We can see how Scots would have seen this down under land as their own with the bonus of a vastly improved climate.
We had heard a lot about Christchurch since the two back to back earthquakes in 2010 / 2011. The locals will tell you the first one of 7.7 did more damage as it lasted much longer. Insurance settlements are not complete and there is some lasting bitterness. Apparently wooden structures survived and concrete and stone did not. In a downtown corridor approximately 1400 buildings were destroyed or severely damaged and 185 lives were lost.
We went to the makeshift cardboard Anglican cathedral that was created out of large cardboard tubes (used in concrete work) 2 years 5 months after the historic cathedral was badly damaged. It is a lovely design and it is expected it could stand for 50 years . No decision has been made to rebuild as many things have to be weighed. Another unique recovery scene was the use of C-cans (steel rail transport cars) used for retail shops and eateries. This area is called the "Re-start Mall".
We left our motel very early the next morning to catch a 9:00 am international flight. We were fortunate as the compound to drop the rental vehicle off did not compute with the Garmin and there weren't many people around to ask.....finally found it and away we went!
In summary, we really enjoyed New Zealand and it's very friendly people. The two islands are similar at times and very diverse in others. Fuel is very expensive ranging from $2.06 to $2.41 per litre. A wise move would have been to rent a diesel vehicle ($1.40 per litre) but the rental costs are much higher than Australia and twice to three times that of N. America. The distances are much greater than we anticipated as the kilometres travelled on both islands exceeded 4000.
The interest in the island increased substantially since the release of "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in 2003. Over 2500 cast and crew filmed in over 100 locations on BOTH islands with a good number accessible by helicopter only. These mythical lands are real!