- Travel Diaries: A Living Dinosaur, Farm Animals, & Devastation -
On our last half day in New Zealand’s north island, a little time at Rotorua’s (Roto-rua) kiwi wildlife park Rainbow Springs was a treat. Rainbow Springs houses different types of birds, fish, and plants you’ll see around New Zealand. We saw a rare type of parrot, the silver fern (also the symbol for NZ’s Rugby team), a rare type of duck, a few actual kiwi birds, and more. Did you know kiwi are nocturnal and need quiet spaces to live? No photos are allowed in the dimly light area where the kiwi live as the flash can cause a kiwi to be stressed out and become very unhealthy from not eating. It’s very unlikely one would see a kiwi while just out and about in New Zealand. The country even has it’s own living dinosaur - the Tuatara, a lizard-like reptile only found on certain small islands around NZ and a number of mainland sanctuaries (photo above next to the duck - both at Rainbow Springs).
The off and on rainy, cool, windy day that included flying from the North Island to Christchurch on the South Island was manageable in a cropped plaid hoodie from French Cuff Boutique, jeans from TOOTSIES, and my favorite moto booties. It helped to have the boots on instead of packing them as I was maxed out on weight… Whoops! :) But, packing for 19 days can be difficult when it’s cold. The hood came in handy when the wind was whipping around in Rotorua before we left. I’m pretty sure I have way more plaid pieces for fall than is healthy, but everyone seems to be “mad for plaid”, too! And, the season’s flat/small heel trend lends itself to easy, stylish traveling. You can be right on trend and comfortable even for a day filled with walking.
After visiting the kiwis at Rainbow Springs, we made one last stop in Rotorua at the Agrodome. Here a farmer/shepherd puts on a show involving 19 sheep (all different breeds of sheep in NZ including merino & Romney), herding dogs, geese, and whatever other animal he decides to have join the show. He sheared a sheep for everyone and ended the show with the dogs running on top of the 2 rows of sheep (see the two dogs on the sheep above). After the show the hubby and I got to go to the nursery and play with the babies - baby goats (kids), lambs, rabbits, and a calf. The goats were so friendly, and I got to hold a lamb! The white goats and little black lamb can be seen in photos by the sheep.
We were off to the airport after grabbing lunch in town and stopping by the water in the first photo by the seaplane. The Rotorua airport is very small but has the most amazing view of the lake and the island in the middle of the lake (the panoramic photo). The rain and cold lead to a slightly turbulent plane ride, but, we made it through the 2 hour flight from the north island to the south island’s Christchurch in the “Land of the Long White Cloud”.
Christchurch (the south island’s largest city), if you remember, was devastated by 2 earthquakes. The first was in 2010 and the second in 2011. 2011’s earthquake was shallow causing widespread damage including losing around 180 lives. Ever since, Christchurch has been in disarray from all of the damage to the older buildings. A local that was visiting Auckland when we were said that “Christchurch is sad to see since it’s like a war zone”, but you truly don’t believe it’s that bad until you see it. There’s empty lots and half buildings all around with construction zone after construction zone. Our hotel was right next to the Christchurch Cathedral (or what’s left of it - last photo above) and is near the worst part of the devastation. Next to the photo of the pizza we had for dinner is one of the streets of Christchurch with containers piled up on the side. That’s a common sight around the city. In many instances those containers are stacked up to cover the missing parts of buildings.
Even though many restaurants you’ll see online as options have been closed since the earthquake, we found an Italian restaurant that wasn’t too far. Cafe Valentine had a yummy pizza with spinach, pine nuts, pumpkin, red onions, chicken, and cheese. We plan on replicating the delicious meal as best we can for dinner tonight! Pumpkin was a common ingredient throughout our time in New Zealand and Australia. Amidst such a beautiful country, it was definitely an experience to spend time in Christchurch with their devastation. It’s been 3 years and they’re still working to restore the city to what it once was. Should I get to see New Zealand again, I hope Christchurch comes back more prosperous than before!
SHOP Plaid and Moto pieces: