Return from Middle Earth – the Blog4NZ tour is complete

So here’s what I’ve been doing in the last couple of weeks: travelled New Zealand on the big Blog4NZ tour, fundraising for Christchurch and partaking in all sorts of adventure and cultural activities, to let the world know NZ is open for business. At the same time I’ve been raising money for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal by throwing myself out of a plane, off a bridge, and down a waterfall, just to mention a few. What can I say, I like adrenalin!

As you can imagine, traveling all of New Zealand means covering quite a bit of ground. We’ve been posting on Twitter and Facebook in the past couple of weeks particularly for these reasons. I am so happy my friend and photographer extraordinaire Meagaan Irish came along, and together we’ve made it an epic adventure. After all, it is she who talked me into skydiving. Together, we drove over 3000 km in 15 days, never slept in, and on one particularly busy day skydived, bungy-jumped and ran a 5k before dinner, rounded off with military fitness training. Big smiles!

What have we been up to on the Blog4NZ fundraising tour?

Of course we’ll be posting lots and lots on all there is to see and experience in New Zealand in the next few weeks, but let us give you a quick snapshot of what we’ve psyched ourselves up to do all in the name of charity!

Bungy jumping from the Ledge, Queenstown

The AJ Hackett Ledge bungy jump, 400m above Queenstown. Totally crazy!

Skydiving in Wanaka, New Zealand

Skydiving from 12,000 ft with Geoff at Skydive Wanaka. The most exciting thing ever! Wicked!

Jetboating at Huka Falls Jet, Taupo, New Zealand

Jetboating at Huka Falls Jet in Taupo on the North Island. My heart stopped a few times, with all the 360 degree spins and insane speed!

White water rafting in Rotorua, North Island

White water rafting in Rotorua with Kaitiaki Adventures. What a ride! Thrilling, entertaining, and so much FUN!

Sharks at Kelly Tarlton's in Auckland

Meagaan at the end of her Zydro ride with Zorb Rotorua. Some wicked zig-zags on that course!

My new shark friend at Kelly Tarlton’s in Auckland. We said hi and got up close and personal from the shark cage! If the water had been warmer I’d have stayed in there for much longer! Thanks for swimming slowly for the camera, Sharky!

Of course Meagaan and I indulged in many more activities while in Aotearoa. In the next few weeks, we’ll also report on our visit of Sky Tower, Hobbiton, and the geothermal spas. We’ll have lots of stories to tell from the Maori side of New Zealand, as we visited Whakarewarewa Maori village, the Te Puia and the Te Papa museums. Naturally, we’ll also give you a taste of our favourite vineyard in Otago, Two Paddocks, and of course, take you around the National Park and Mt Ruapehu area, just to mention a few of the non-adrenalin things we got up to! Christchurch still has a lot to offer, despite the earthquake, as we will prove to you. And of course we won’t be keeping all the good tips to ourselves when it comes where to rest your head or driving in New Zealand.

Why did we do all this?

Why wouldn’t we?! But seriously, the fundraiser for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal will remain open until end of November. Given the crazy activities we’ve been doing, I think we’ve earned a bit of sponsorship for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, don’t you think?

You can donate via the link above until the end of November if you feel so inclined. I am proud to say that several media outlets have picked up our fundraiser as a story! Here are two for starters:
PlanitNZ
The Taupo Times

What Christchurch is like now

Well, it was sobering visit. I’ve always liked Christchurch, the Garden City, as people say. And now, I still like it, and it’s still the Garden City. But yes, of course there is still a lot of work to be done in Christchurch. I am not exactly sure what I expected to see. On the one hand I was surprised to see so many empty lots – nothing where there used to be buildings, and it’s good to see that some buildings, damaged beyond repair, have been cleared away. On the other hand though, it can feel quite lonely walking through many streets, particularly in the centre, deserted, sidewalk and fences overgrown, full of the remains of liquefaction. And then you suddenly find yourself in a spot along the fence of the Red Zone that looks oddly familiar, and realize you’ve been there before: “Oh gosh, THIS is where I am?” as only one of the 10 buildings you knew remains.

Christchurch Cathedral Square, New Zealand

What remains of Cathedral Square in Christchurch. Sad to see the cathedral go, but I am looking forward to seeing the new one in a few years!

The city is transformed, for sure, and it will need a good chunk of time more to re-open the Red Zone. I got to see this firsthand: there is still lots of rubble everywhere, and the central business district I know as a bustling place where people do business, meet for a coffee, or explore as a tourist, now resembles a ghost town. The help charitable organisations, such as the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, is much needed there. Your donations will enable the Appeal to support a critical area in the rebuild of the city: the community infrastructure, including sports fields, heritage buildings and education infrastructure, in short, all the places and services that make a city worth living in.

However, this should not deter you from visiting Christchurch. As I said, it is still the Garden City. The Botanic Gardens are still spectacular, and so is Hagley Park. You can punt on the Avon, visit some great museums, and be part of the gap filler projects and experience all the good and exciting stuff that is happening as part of the RE:Start project!

 

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  9 comments for “Return from Middle Earth – the Blog4NZ tour is complete

  1. 3 November, 2012 at 19:11

    One adventure right after the other and all for a good cause. Well done! I guess if you could do all that, I can click on that little donate button. 🙂

    • Christina
      4 November, 2012 at 16:35

      Thanks so much for your generosity, Cathy! Very much appreciated!
      And you’re absolutely right – one adventure after the other. It was a busy 2 weeks. But I like busy! 😀

  2. 6 November, 2012 at 20:08

    Glad we got to meet up and give you a bit of a CBD tour by pedal power while you were here. As you said, we got to see three sides of Christchurch: the old, the new and the ever-changing Christchurch!

    • Christina
      7 November, 2012 at 00:16

      So great to meet you and pedal around Christchurch on our vintage bikes! I love the old, the new and the ever-evolving Christchurch. It was, is and will be an awesome place to visit!

  3. 9 November, 2012 at 15:17

    Wow – thanks for the Christchurch update – I was wondering how they were going down there. Sounds like still a ways to go. Fantastic NZ adventure photos!

    • Christina
      9 November, 2012 at 20:52

      Thanks Andrea! There will be a big Christchurch update soon. So many things to write about!

  4. 19 July, 2013 at 09:38

    This post is like looking through my photos from the past 5 weeks! Looks like I managed to get in all of the highlights! It’s so awesome that you did it all for charity. Well done!

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