11 April 2010

happy easter part 1

Yay for easter. Yay for God. The clinic is actually closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday, and then I took a few vacation days, so while Josh's parents were here we were able to take about 5 days and go down to the south island. AWESOME! :) Josh entertained Jan and Jon during the week by taking them up north to see the glow worm caves, and then east to Rotorua for the geothermal activity. Since I was sadly working, I don't have any pictures from their adventures! So Thursday night (April Fools Day!) we headed down to Wellington.
We had Friday morning to wander around Wellington before we flew to Christchurch, so we took the cable car up to the Botanical Gardens first.

Fun times in the cable car!
There's a cable car museum up on the top near the entrance to the gardens. It was cute.

And then we took a nice little walk from the top of the Gardens to downtown. On the way was a lovely rose garden, a treehouse, and all sorts of other funness.

The walk ended us up by the Parliament buildings. The circular one is called the beehive, and apparently was voted one of the world's top 10 ugliest building. We didn't think it was so bad.

Walked about, then went to Te Papa to wander. Here's an exhibit of bone and pounamu (jade or greenstone) fish hooks. It's super cool.

Josh REALLY likes museums.

Airplanes in the museum. Gotta love it.

So sometime when I have enough pictures, I will put up all the fun playgrounds that NZ has. Check this out! Josh and I really wanted to go, but it seemed that you had to be under 4 feet to play on this cool thing.

Then we got to Christchurch, were lots of people were watching the construction...so I did too!
Here's the Christchurch Cathedral, it's a beautiful Anglican church, and we were just in time for Good Friday service. They had an amazing choir--I thought that it was a mixed choir, then when I got a better look it was actually a combo of the boys' choir and the men's choir. Those guys can really hit some high notes!

The outside of the church. The city was actually built around the church (according to the brochure at the church anyway). It is the best-known and most visited church building in New Zealand and is an iconic representation of the city of Christchurch. The building started in 1850. Here's the whole story if you're interested:
The story began with a dream of a city built around a central cathedral and college, following the English model of Christ Church, Oxford. The dream arrived with the planners of the Canterbury Association and their first four ships of settlers that landed in Lyttelton harbour in 1850. Their arrival is recorded in mosaics on the tiled floor of the cathedral.
With the arrival six years later of the first Bishop of Christchurch, Henry Harper, came new impetus for the cathedral project. The go-ahead was given at a meeting he called in 1858, when the adult male population of the town numbered only 450. Plans were commissioned from the pre-eminent English Gothic architect of the day, George Gilbert Scott, who never visited the city but left oversight to Robert Speechley.
Fourteen years later, a foundation stone was solemnly laid in 1864. The whole township was festooned in bunting to celebrate the brave beginning. The building began with, and still carries, great expectations. Foundations were laid quickly in the center of town but then lay abandoned for a decade, for lack of funds. The dream exceeded the reality - a constantly recurring theme in the cathedral story. Novelist Anthony Trollope visited the town in 1872 and described the "vain foundations" as a "huge record of failure", despite the cathedral being an "honest, high-toned idea."
But a year later, a new resident architect, Benjamin Mountfort, had been appointed and work restarted. Mountfort adapted the Scott design and added features of his own such as the tower balconies, west porch, font, pulpit and stained glass. His buildings dominated Victorian Christchurch and he is known today as the "father of Canterbury architecture."
In 1881, the nave or main body of the cathedral was completed and opened amid city-wide celebrations. The rituals of choral music, daily worship, bell ringing and welcoming visitors began that year and continue to the present day. The decision to first build the nave where people gather, rather than the sanctuary, was deliberately taken. There was simply not enough money for the transepts, chancel and sanctuary. Those took another twenty-three years to construct. In 1904, the cathedral was finally completed, at a cost of 64,000 pounds. It took another ninety years for a visitors' center to be added alongside.
Bright and early Saturday morning, outside our hostel waiting for the shuttle bus to bring us to the train station.
The Tranz Scenic railway!

Uh-oh, somebody's tired...

Looking at the Southern Alps.

Check out the cool reflection in the train windows!
So the Tranz Scenic is the train journeybetween Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other. You pass through the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Then it climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth.

After getting our gear from the train, and picking up our rental car, we headed north on the West coast up to Punakaiki where the pancake rocks are. The pancake rocks are a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts though a number of vertical blowholes during high tides. Together with the 'pancake'-layering of the limestone (created by immense pressure on alternating hard and soft layers of marine creatures and plant sediments)

This sign is up in front of these rock formations. Can you see the faces and animals and things? :)
Then we wandered to a gorgeous beach and played around for a bit.

Greymouth is also the home to Monteith's brewery, so we took a tour. Yum. It started in 1868. The Monteith’s family-owned Phoenix Brewery became the West Coast’s most popular brewery for its' strong tasting, full-bodied ale.' The Phoenix Brewery later merged with a group of small breweries to form Westland Brewing Company, predecessor to today’s Monteith’s Brewing Company.
Monteith’s has had the same brewing traditions for almost 150 years. Along with coal-fired boilers there are open fermenters that allow the brewer to see and smell the beer as it matures.
Then you get to taste beer! And pour your own.

Josh, going for the red. Celtic red, that is.
OK, off to part 2!

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