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 adrenaline!
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!
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 to 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 the 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:
What Christchurch is like now
Well, it was a 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 realizes you’ve been there before: “Oh gosh, THIS is where I am?” as only one of the 10 buildings you knew remains.
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!