I got up to to a clear starry sky over Lake Heron at 6am, and left Liz in the warmth of her sleeping bag, and headed around past the farm house to boat shed we had seen yesterday. I took a few shots but wasn't really getting what I wanted so I moved further around the shore to find a little bay that faced the rising sun.
I stood and waited for the sunrise, watching the paradise ducks flying around and the little bit of cloud that there was on the horizon light up. After an hour or so I headed back to camp, had some breakfast, drank some coffee, packed the van ( for the last time in a scenic location; our last night before flying home to Napier will be spent at a camp site in the suburbs of Christchurch ), and left at about 8:30am
We pretty much drove straight into Christchurch, which took about 2 1/2 hours, for the camp in Papanui ( Top 10 Christchurch ) checked in ( using a drive through checkin ), paid the $48 and parked the van. We have stayed at this camp before, and it is a great location both for getting to town and the airport. It is used a lot by people starting or finishing their campervan holidays in the South Island.
We jumped on a bus and headed into town, getting off at the Central Bus Station and having a quick wander along Colombo St. This is our 3rd visit to Christchurch since the earthquakes that struck in 2011, and each time there are more and more buildings built, and it gets more of the feel of a City again. This time is no exception, with a new area of Cashel St having been reopened which gives Christchurch a good central shopping area, and also with the main 3 banks having returned to the CBD. One of the best things about the new buildings in the Christchurch CBD are their use of alleyways and laneways within the buildings, with little hidden courtyards and cafes. I can only assume this comes from the planning rules that are in place for these new buildings; so well done Christchurch City Council!
So we grabbed some lunch at Ballantynes then wandered around the shops, through the Square ( still no change to the Cathedral ) and along the Avon to the Earthquake memorial. Then back to the bus depot at 2:30pm and back out to Northlands Mall for a wander around the shops and a milkshake. We walked back to the camp at 3:30pm and relaxed.
We decided to have a night off from the sunset / sunrise schedule of the last couple of weeks, and headed in to the Casino for some tea and a donation to their coffers, and drove back to the camp at 8:30pm. It feels weird being back in a city again, after 2 weeks travelling around some of the quieter areas of New Zealand, with the traffic and people all around.
We were up at 7:30am the next morning, had some breakfast then packed up the van. As this camp is the starting point for peoples travels there is a cupboard in the kitchen for all those left over things that you might have at the end of your trip ( sugar, salt, pasta, beer etc ). So we paid forward all our left over supplies, including the gumboots we bought after arriving in Christchurch. We then packed all our belongs into our bags and headed out of camp at 9am. Before we returned the van we needed to fill up with diesel and also fill the gas bottle. So after visiting 2 service stations we ticked both of those boxes and headed out to the Mighty offices out by the airport to return our home on wheels ( and settle up the final account ), and catch the shuttle to the airport.
As per normal we had plenty of time to kill at the airport ( we checked in for our 1:20pm flight at 10:30am ), so we headed upstairs to catch up on some work, have coffee, lunch etc.
We went through to our gate at 1:00pm, and onto the plane and off home again at 1:30pm.
This was a really interesting trip for us; the focus of this trip was photography, and we spent most of our time either shooting or processing photos. We didn't do any tourist activities that you would normally do on a South Island holiday, and it was nice not to feel the need to do them.
Again we got to visit some of New Zealand's amazing locations, and again we made the effort to visit some areas that aren't on the tourist route, but are equally as stunning.
But the highlight ( and the main purpose for the trip ) had to be the Warbirds over Wanaka airshow; just an amazing day of planes in a stunning location.
Until next time....thanks South Island