Christchurch, NZ

Seda: Christchurch is where we are now, where we cannot fly out of and where we sit through New Zealand’s lockdown. But when we first came here, it was just a city that symbolised the end of our NZ trip and the city where we would leave our dream sleeper.

We first checked into a seaside campsite where we would enjoy our final days with our sleeper car and did the usual touristy stuff; firstly visited the botanical gardens (of course!).

The Avon River goes through the botanical gardens but let me assure you that the NZ version of The Avon is far shallower in some places than it’s English cousin. In those sections even the poor ducks swimming on this river have to tuck their feet right in!

I guess these clever gentlemen know the slightly deeper sections to entertain their customers…

We spent some time walking on the boardwalk near the campsite admiring the different views of the land around us before and after the tide! We didn’t know of course that these simple pleasures such as just sitting on a bench and watching the sea was a luxury we wouldn’t experience in the weeks to come.

One evening we saw such amazing colours in a beautiful sunset that I couldn’t believe it was possible to see together!

The second day in Christchurch, we went for a long walk at Bottle Lake Forest Park. We did feel a bit sluggish and wanted this walk to refresh us but I don’t think it was deliberate to have walked as long we did. We thought we would walk to the lake and back but the elusive lake was never to be reached. As we had to go around an enormous landfill site with loads of heavy machines working on it, we eventually gave up and decided enough was enough! We never did find that lake.

Still the walk lasted for hours amongst the beautiful naked trees and we got to see a really cool structure as well as our favourite NZ bird…piwakawaka (fantail). It has a gorgeous tail which allows it to make sudden direction changes as it flies. A very friendly and pretty bird.

This was the early days of people starting to invade supermarkets for toilet paper, rice and pasta. Although we hadn’t seen much of a difference in the living in NZ up until that point, that was the day we started to see things change. At the supermarket, there were some empty shelves and the pasta shelves had a “2 per customer only please” signs.

The coffee shop we went to asked us to sign a register with our name and contact details. It was everywhere and everyone was police now and felt like they could order for your fingerprints to be taken! It started to feel suffocating. But we weren’t to now that this was only the beginning…

The Airbnb room we booked for our last night was cancelled at the last minute by the lady who owned it because apparently she felt unwell and didn’t want to create a risk for us.

We had to start looking for a new place and preppeared a reassuring text to send to Airbnb owners saying that we were healthy and just needed a room for our last night before flying back to the UK.

Eventually we had arranged a nice place and checked in. Then it was the sad moment of emptying our car. I’m one of those people who gives her car a name and gets attached to it even though it’s only a machine. But you see, we spend so much time in these machines and create a bond by becoming a team on the road, there is no denying that there is an attachment there. Like I still reminisce and miss my first car today.

I think because Andy knows this, he kind of tricked me into a quick plan. He said ” I think it would much better use of time if I dropped the car and you stayed and packed for our journey tomorrow.” He was out the door before I finished saying “ok then”. So went our little home of 6 weeks! You think I slept better that night in a massive king size bed instead of a our sleeper car? No I didn’t, I miss Vesta! (That was her name, I didn’t name the car this time, they all come with names printed on the side)

Goodbye Vesta…!

I spent the next couple of hours getting everything packed nicely into our bags and I was very happy with my work. Everything breakable was wrapped nicely and covered in cling film as a final protection. All clothes rolled up and all liquids stored appropriately.

Now I am still unwrapping those cling filmed packages in frustration as we use here all the things that we thought we were taking home.

Andy: As you probably know by now, we were told we couldn’t fly home as our ticket was via Singapore which had just closed down the airport to transit passengers. Without any options we were stranded here in New Zealand. There are way worse places we could be and we are healthy, so we are thankful for that.

Now we are staying in a motel room just over the road from the Botanical Gardens we visited when we first arrived ironically. There is also a huge park enveloping the Botanical Gardens which we now use as our exercise area. It’s a really popular place for cyclists, walkers and runners alike although in this very uncertain time everyone keeps their distance. Everyone is very happy though, and you get lots of “Hello”s as you exercise which is great. At this rate we may be super fit by the time we get home! That can’t be a bad thing right?!

Seda: Since the seasons are lived in opposite way round in this part of the world, we are now in mid autumn, observing a different view in the park every day. All the leaves are changing colour and presenting us with a better autumn scenery than yesterday. Andy is not happy when I break the pace to take a picture but it’s hard not to when you know that view will change the next day.

Hope you’re able to go out and about for a bit wherever you are…

Stay safe, and we can get through this soon hopefully. Who knows, we may even get home someday!

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