South Island Synopsis
By now some of you will have realised that whilst Gecko was coping with the British winter, the crew were on the other side of the world. We left Manchester at the beginning of March and flew to Perth, W.Australia via Singapore to visit relatives. We left Perth in 38C sunshine and landed a few hours later in Brisbane where it was 20C and raining. After a couple of nights with distant relatives we flew on to Christchurch to start our five-week tour of New Zealand.
Mar 14-16 Christchurch
First impression is of a quiet, clean city. No dog poo, no Keep of the Grass signs and bus drivers who not only speak English but also know where they are going. They even have a rack on the front of the bus for bikes or push chairs.
After collecting the hire car we thought we should buy a few groceries for breakfast etc. What a shock - prices are 3-4 times the UK - even the fresh fruit grown locally.
The main port for Christchurch is Lyttelton which, when we visited it, was busy with lumber, containers and pleasure craft. Our main reason for visiting was to view the Time Ball and Signal Station. Before the days of accurate clocks the time ball would be dropped down the pole every day at 1pm so that ships in the harbour could adjust their own timepieces. The flags gave weather and other warnings.The signal station is now managed by the Historical Places Trust which, through a reciprocal arrangement, allowed us free entry on prsentation of our National Trust card. She who must be obeyed has a brother in the merchant marine and he informs us that the flags flown here spell A H O Y.
The harbour at Lyttelton was formed by a volcano about 9 million years ago as was Akoroa on the southern coast of the Banks Penninsula. The volcanos were long ago submerged by the weight of mountains leaving two harbours effectively formed in the craters.
Akoroa harbour formed by the volcanic crater