South Island trip day 4: Mount Cook to Christchurch

On the drive back to Christchurch we took a little detour to see the Tasman glacier. This glacier is one of the largest in the South Alps and the longest in New Zealand, although it has been retreating at the rate of 180 meters a years since the 1990s. There is a glacial lake 9 kilometers long where in 1973 there was no lake at all and it is predicted that in the future the glacier will disappear altogether while the lake will reach its maximum size.

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After a short, but rather steep hike to the lookout (and, as usual, greeting and being greeted by every passing fellow hiker) we had a perfect view of the glacier and the lake

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On the climb down we took another detour to have a look at some mountain lakes

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The toilet with the best location

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As we drove back, we stopped to take pictures of two things that we have been looking at the whole drive there and back: meadows of alpine flowers and sheep pastures. (we also saw lot’s of cows as well, and even alpacas and deer)

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I didn`t realize anyone but Russians liked beetroot, but here in New Zealand it’s a very popular vegetable. What’s more, they even put it into burgers, as evidenced by this McDonald’s poster:

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As we arrived to Christchurch and checked into our hostel, we decided to take a walk around the city. We were a bit surprised that on a Friday night the city looked completely deserted (and this time it wasn’t even Christmas Day). The reason is a sad one – a series of earthquakes in 2011 virtually destroyed the centre of the city, and many people lost their homes and businesses and had to or chose to leave the city. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Christchurch_earthquake)

There is Red Zone in the centre – the territory where buildings suffered most destruction and have be demolished or are awaiting demolition. The zone is cordoned off (outlined pink on the map)

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But even outside the red zone there is plenty of destruction – buildings, shut down for repairs, empty plots of land where building used to be, piles of rubble etc.

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The whole thing looked post-Apocalyptic and eerie, with very few people around and everything closed. So when we saw this nativity scene in a shop window, it looked really bizarre

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We were told that one thing to see is a shopping centre made entirely out of shipping containers. All the shops were closed, but that’s because the majority of shops in New Zealand close around 5 pm, with the exceptions of little grocery shops and some supermarkets.

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Mike insisted I take this picture IMG_0907

Subdued by what we have seen, we went back to our hotel for a quiet dinner with food we bought at the supermarket (in a shopping centre that looked like this) and went to bed

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The rest of the photos can be found here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/113183527320279302018/SouthIslandTripDay4MountCookToChristchurch?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCOeDheypocijDg&feat=directlink

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