We continued our exploration of Christchurch and area and decided to do this by car as the day was quite overcast. We started with a trip into Lyttleton, the beautiful bay and port we had seen from our hike the day before. It was very picturesque with a gut that let into the ocean beyond and a large container ship alongside and unloading as we drove by.
Our drive took us to Sumner Beach where the sun came out and the vistas unfolded. We were very surprised to see many containers stacked at the road side, and later discovered that these were there to prevent damage to the road from rock slides as a result of earthquake devastation from 2010 and 2011. On the beach is a large rock with a cave through the centre which can be traversed at low tide.
After lunch it was onward to Christchurch where we decided to visit the city centre. This was specifically to visit the visitor centre so we could start our planning for the next few weeks. What a surprise was in store for us..
Firstly, the visitor centre is located in the most beautiful botanical garden, laid out in a very English fashion. Secondly, the downtown core has been mostly destroyed by the earthquakes. Old stone buildings stand in ruins with supports holding them up while restoration efforts continue; large department store areas stand empty with not a soul around; government buildings are boarded up and large hotels are abandoned. In true entrepreneurial style though, reconstruction efforts are underway with a new and interesting plan for a new and airy centre, showing much hope to the future. Also, there is a mall which has been created out of shipping containers, and this area was bustling .