Further south we spend one day exploring the famous Milford Sound. The best way to do that is by kayak instead of taking a bigger boat. Before we got the kayaks into the water we had to endure a massive attack by sandflies, which take a bite at every piece of skin they can make out. Surprisingly, once on the water there were almost none.
The weather for that was almost perfect as we didn’t have any of the more than 7000mm of rainfall they get here every year (in comparison, Hamburg has about 800mm). However, the almost vertical mountains that rise up to 1600m from the sea were not visible for most of the tour. We learned that the shape of the valley indicates glacial activity rather than the work of a river, making it a wrongly named fiord. Once the clouds were parting around midday it was quite an impressive sight.
On our way to Christchurch we stopped by the Moeraki Boulders, large round rocks with a diameter of up to two meters. They formed around small rocks or shells over a few million years. They have been exposed at the beach by erosion of the soil surrounding them.
Christchurch itself is very fascinating. It started out with getting lost in all the one-ways that have been installed since the publication of our map in 2010. This is mostly due to the two large earthquakes (in 2010 and 2011) close to the city. Afterwards, about 80% of the buildings downtown were considered to be instable. Some of those buildings have been taken down already, others are still surrounded by construction fences or are being torn down right now. The new spaces are used e.g. for parking lots (there are quite a few of them around, definitely more spaces available than cars). The construction works are responsible for the one way streets as all the equipment is blocking one side of the street.
But the people of Auckland have been very resilient, giving the city a spirit of hope instead of emptiness. One area has been used to set up a bunch of shops, stores and eateries in standard shipping containers. Additionally they have a great exhibition on the two earthquakes in a small new museum. The spiral of the cathedral completely collapsed after the second earthquake and the main building was also badly damaged. Therefore, a new (temporary) cathedral was built for the services to continue. All in all it’s quite impressive to watch the city rise again.