A holiday at home; this was no stay-cation. Travelling for 30 hours (about 24 hours flying time) we covered 11,920 air miles to get home to New Zealand for Christmas and arrived brimming with anticipation to see our family, including the Kiwi Hamburger and her NGB who had arrived a day before us. Instead of an agenda to explore new sights and experiences, top of the list was to chill out in familiar surroundings and refill the soul with the things we’ve missed; walks along the beach, beside the river, the sight of the sky all day long, and a lightly chilled local Chardonnay at 6pm in the company of our nearest and dearest.
Stepping off the plane the bright clear light and the colours all around are almost startling. Nature sure makes a bold impression. Seeing the pohutukawa trees bursting with their bright red flowers made my heart sing.
Familiar sounds quickly reminded us we were home in our comfort zone; a lawnmower whirring somewhere in the neighbourhood, test cricket on the tele and no language difficulties at the coffee shop; ordering a long black and a flat white doesn’t require translation.
We needn’t have worried about fickle Christmas time weather, glorious all-day sunshine led into long warm evenings every day. We swam in the Waiohine River at Greytown and splashed in the waves at Waikuku Beach, just like the best days of summers past. We barbecued, picnicked and even took a little bush walk at Mt Holdsworth near Masterton. All the things we had missed about New Zealand, the beach, the big sky, the space, the greenery and the scenery were at their best.
We hadn’t missed the earthquakes, but nevertheless experienced a couple of small shakes during our visit. The wise (old) Cantabrians in our midst argued the toss as to the magnitude of the quake and quickly agreed “it was a 4.” Smarty pants with my technology, I checked the GeoNet site: 4.1! Shows how much practice they’ve had.
The progress that has already been made on rebuilding in and around Christchurch, and in my home town of Kaiapoi, is heartening and a testament to the strong community spirit.
In the Christchurch city centre, snazzy modern new buildings are springing up while others have been creatively restored for new purposes. The old Woolston Tannery is now a chic Victorian styled shopping centre, home to interesting boutiques, a craft beer pub, deli-supermarket, and several fabric and craft stores. At the yarn shop run by the Christchurch Guild of Spinners and Weavers the kind woman on duty invited me to have a look at their workshop at the back of the store. A fantastic wall hanging caught my eye. It was made in 2000 by the guild’s members – their names feature on the border – and highlights all the various woolcrafts from shearing the fleece to dyeing, spinning and garment making. The top section depicts the beautiful stone buildings of the Christchurch Arts Centre; a poignant reminder of guild’s former location there before it was badly damaged in the earthquake. The inscription along the bottom made me smile: “God loveth sinners, dyers and spinners. And weavers even may hope for Heaven.” Not sure where it leaves knitters and crocheters but I’ll worry about that another day. I really appreciated the warm welcome from the guild members.
Eventually departure day came around. Suitcases were re-packed and stocked with various little NZ treasures including chocolate fish and a packet of mallowpuffs to make the taste of home last longer.
Family and friends are at the heart of the place that is home. We loved being able to get together. Thanks a million.
Ka kite ano