30 January 2006

Today Brian starts his rotation at Christchurch Hospital. That leaves me with a lot of spare time, including a chance to do some catching up on this blog.

Christchurch has a population of about 410,000 people. It’s a very English city, all the houses have little courtyards with gardens out front. The amount of roses and other flowers growing here is amazing. Out in front of our house is a lavender plant that is as big as I am. It smells great.

The main river that flows through town is the Avon River. Apparently this is named for the Scottish Avon River, not the English Avon River. Go figure. Anyway, the river is beautiful with huge willow trees growing alongside it. There is also a path that follows along the river all the way from where we’re staying into the downtown. The best part about the river are the ducks! I know ducks aren’t that exciting but I’ve really been enjoying these ducks. There are normal “American ducks” as Brian calls them. Here is an especially flattering picture of an American duck trying to get some lunch.

There are these smaller darker ducks. When they go under for food, the go all the way under and stay there for around a minute.

The last kind of duck, and I don’t have a picture of them yet, are paradise ducks. They’re about twice the size of normal ducks, and they are the native species of New Zealand. They’re black and the girls have white heads and the boys have black heads. We haven’t seen any fly yet, but apparently when they do, they have beautiful colors on the bottom of their wings.

OK, enough about ducks.

A little ways from our flat is this store.

Milk and honey is a little ice cream/flower store. The ice cream is unusual because you chose either vanilla ice cream, vanilla frozen yoghurt (NZ spelling there) or frozen soy cream and then chose a frozen berry to mix with it. The machine looks like a huge drill and a funnel and it smushes it all up together and it tastes SO GOOD!! We’re been here 3 ½ days and we’ve already had it twice, so I think that counts as slightly addicted.

Right across from this store is a small triangular park dedicated to all the firefighters who lost their lives during September 11. These beams are actually from one of the twin towers. Apparently the World Fire Fighter Games were held in Christchurch shortly after 9/11, and they made this park to show their support for the US Firefighters.

If you were to follow the Avon River farther from our house to the other side of downtown, you would come to the hospital where Brian is working. Just past that are the Christchurch botanical gardens, which are beautiful. Trees in Christchurch are enormous. I don’t think I’ve seen a small tree since we got here!

The coolest part of this tree Brian is standing by is that inside it are no less that 20 little kids climbing around on it like a jungle gym. You know how sometimes you walk past a tree and here a million birds in it but can’t see any of them? This was the little kid version of that tree. We kept hearing giggling and squealing and then finally we saw all of them hidden in the tree. We’ve only made it through about 1/10th of the gardens this far, but we saw a gorgeous rose garden. It’s summer here so everything is at it’s best. Here are a few rose garden pictures.

We also found a conservatory in the park, with a room full of begonias. Have you ever seen begonias like these??

We’re planning on spending more time in the botanical garden, so I’ll post more pictures when we take them.

Here’s a short geography lesson. New Zealand is made up of two islands, the North Island and the South Island. Christchurch is located on the eastern edge of the South Island, in a region called the Canterbury Plains. To all the sides of Christchurch except the east, there are mountains. To the east is the ocean. We drove to the east in our little kiwicar and walked out on the pier. Here are some pictures of the mountains to Southeast of town.

Brian also snuck this picture of some New Zealand newlyweds. What a great place to take some wedding pictures!

Yesterday we took a 3 hour minibus tour of Christchurch and the surrounding areas. Of course Brian wanted to sit in the front seat with the driver, so we ended up getting a front row view of everything. The tour took us up to the top of the mountains to the southeast of town. The view was amazing. These pictures are of the bay southeast of Christchurch. We plan to go back there soon and get our feet wet!

Our tour also took us to Mona Vale. Mona vale is a neat old house built in 1905 with really pretty gardens around it. Brian got a chance to play with his new camera and took some pictures of the gardens, the lily pond and the fern house.

Thanks everyone for all the comments! It makes us smile to read all the good wishes from back home. The weather here is around 18 - 24 celsius. The formula to translate that into Farenheit is 9/5 *c +32 = f, good luck with that! It's been blue skies, sun and a nice breeze almost the whole time we've been here (yes mom, I'm wearing sunscreen and I'll go buy a hat - there's a hole here in the ozone you know!)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! the pictures are beautiful! looks and sounds like you guys are having an amazing time. who is taking the pics? whoever it it they are a great photographer. can't wait to read more about new zealand and your adventure.


30 January, 2006 02:35  
Blogger Erin said...

It is so beautiful there! I'll bet Brian is disappointed to be stuck inside all day while you are out enjoying that 70 degree + weather! (Yeah, um, I just googled a temperature conversion calculator. Forget that higher math stuff!!)

Have a great time!

30 January, 2006 05:42  
Blogger Beth said...

it looks so amazing there! 18-24 is roughly 60-75, that is about roomtemp. Oh when will Americans go to the metric system? Anyway, I am glad that you two are having a good time so far! Keep that white irish skin protected cousin!

30 January, 2006 05:54  
Anonymous Mom said...

Good girl, always listen to your Mother (and Beth)-about sunscreen and ozone holes anyway. Amazing pictures, great descriptions!

30 January, 2006 07:40  
Anonymous Chris said...

Kate and Brian,
Could you lie just a little bit about how nice it is out there? The rest of us are stuck out here in Ohio where it's, you know, Ohio weather. I'm glad you all are enjoying yourselves. On a side note, I think you should get some spinners for that car. It would be awesome.

30 January, 2006 08:28  
Anonymous Kevin said...

You guys can't seriously have taken all of those pictures - why don't you show us the real pictures - both of you sitting on the couch in a pile of Cheetos watching Kiwi soap operas while your kiwicar drowns outside. I am going to echo Chris and ask that you lie to us. Take care and have a good time. I look forward to more pictures.

30 January, 2006 08:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I veto the 2 previous requests for lies, i think you should make us all jealous because so far im a little bit obsessed with NZ and seems to be my next hopeful vacation or "learning experience". hahaha have fun take care of yourselves and love you!!
-- Joanna

30 January, 2006 11:29  
Anonymous Ivory said...

Man Kate, you are doing a good job. I feel like I am there right along with you guys. Your pictures are postcard perfect. Your blog always brings a smile to my face, because its better than studying for school. Until your next adventure, take care.

01 February, 2006 07:17  

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