Monday, July 23, 2012


Christchurch is the 3rd largest city by area in New Zealand and was the 2nd largest by population. It has been known as a beautiful university town with a thriving business center.

In February 2011 Christchurch, particularly the Central Business District (CBD), was devastated by an earthquake.  Around 183 people were killed and much of the city became unstable. Most of the news I have seen centers around the future of Christchurch Cathedral and issues with the City Council.  I was not prepared to see the desolation and ruin of the CBD and eerie emptiness of the streets in the center of New Zealand's 3rd largest city.  Most structures are surrounded by fences and gates.  The only entry way to the building is through an army checkpoint.    These pictures were taken on a very nice Sunday morning just before lunchtime. The buildings that you see are completely unused now.

This is looking straight to the Chirstchurch Cathedral.  It had looked like this:

An abandoned coffee shop, furniture and coffee machines still inside.

The entry checkpoint next to the cathedral.

Things are improving in Chch slowly.  New business centers are popping up in areas that had not been so nice before the earthquake.  However, smaller continuing earthquakes and political infighting are hampering the progress.

I am hoping to make another trip up to Chch soon, and I will focus on the nicer aspects of the city and its people.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Our road trip took us through the towns of Oamaru, Timaru, and Ashburton.  Just north of Oamaru is an really nice restaurant called Riverstone Kitchen.  Not only is there a restaurant, but they have fabulous organic vegetable gardens, a playground including a really cool fort play structure, a bird sanctuary, and one of the largest collections of the largest collections of nicknack junk I have seen.  The  stuff sold from a pole barn made up to look like a frontier town.

Bric-a-brac hell.

The outdoor pool table

Is your home complete without this?

One of the many organic gardens.

Banks Peninsula near Little River

Rosie with the Southern Alps in the background.

That's me salmon fishing in Rakaia just before the line broke.  Can you believe the size of the fish here?

Wind powered car park light at New World in Lincoln.

 This very neat square forrest is made of pine trees for harvesting.

Climbing up to Alan's daughter's farm.  Stunning scenery.

And, of course...

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Alan Williams is a Canadian born, California bred Kiwi who has lived in New Zealand most of his life.  Fortunately for me, Alan is a math teacher at the school I teach at and he has become a good friend.  Alan's partner Kate was away at a conference and we planned to go skiing, but the conditions were not good so we loaded up Rosie and headed out on a road trip to see his daughter on the Banks Peninsula and to see Christchurch.

Alan Williams and a deer friend.

On our trip north the first stop was at the Moeraki Boulders Scenic Reserve.  The boulders are concretions somewhat similar to geodes, except that the inside of a Moeraki boulder is primarily calcite as opposed to quartz.  And the fact that they are significantly larger than geodes.

The boulders are only about a 300 meter strip of the beach.  There are large boulders and small boulders, broken boulders and whole boulders, smooth boulders and one (only one, mind you) seaweed covered boulder.

The entire Moeraki Boulder Scenic Reserve. 

A broken Moeraki filled with seawater.

A little Moeraki, about the size of a large medicine ball.

Calcite on the inside of a boulder.  This looked unusually like a rattlesnake head.

The only seaweed covered Moeraki.

Where will we go from here?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


While on my dairy farm trip, I did get to see a bit more of the south island, traveling from the towns of Balclutha, Clinton, and Gore.  Here are some pics from Balclutha:

The bridge over the Clutha River

The Clutha River

Not just sheep in New Zealand.

Clinton is a very small 5-horse town.  The sign says its a 3-horse town, but there are 5, so I assume there has been growth since the last census.  There are a few shops but its mostly a roadside village.

The 5 horses of Clinton.

Clinton Central Business District--a pub, taxidermist, and 'antique' shop.

The point of going to Clinton is to drive through to Gore.  No doubt you get the reason that the road between these two fair cities is called 'The Presidential Highway.'  Both President Clinton and Vice President Gore have had their pictures taken in front of this very sign:

Gore is a much larger town and is a hub for south-central Otago.  

Gore's Giant Brown Trout

There are a few other interesting things that I saw on my travels.

Would you eat at Wongy's Cod & Taties?  I chose not to.

The Milton Lions Manure Stall.  I did not think there were enough lions in New Zealand to produce this much manure.

Sheep cloning, as if there weren't enough of the 'real' thing.

And just in case my republican brethren thought the were being left out, take a closer look at the sign:

I will not underscore the subtle inference.  :)

Monday, July 16, 2012


Last week Andries and Belinda van der Zande invited me down to their dairy farm to help in preparations for the cows return. Yes, the cows go on a bovine holiday (think ClubMed for cattle) and return ready to reproduce.  The farm is a little over an hour south from Dunedin toward the town of Clinton.  The van der Zandes just moved to this area where Andries manages the farm There was much cleaning, mending, and general grunt work to do.

Cleaning the udder suckers (non-technical term)

Belinda and the dogs.

The Farm with Andries doing some mowing--in winter!

The dairy shed

Disassemble, clean, reassemble

Putting flowers in the garden.

Not pleased to see an American with November just around the corner.

Life on the farm.

Very cold here once the sun goes down at 5 PM.

Making more friends.  Four wheelers and AG bikes are the preferred modes of travel.

Another of the very positive aspects of New Zealand is variety of expatriates one meets.  Andries is a former Montessori principal and cafe owner from Amsterdam and Belinda is a former journalist from Jersey (the isle, not meadowlands!).  The world is a smaller place.