Heather Hapeta lives in Aotearoa-New Zealand: real travel, real adventures, real stories, real photos. Recent destinations Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Hong Kong – now NZ destinations due to COVID travel restrictions
Things have changed while you have been away, so thought I could help you get up to speed in our post-Covid lives. (Post-COVID as in ‘since it entered our lives’ as opposed to before we knew about COVID.)
I don’t know what team you used to be in, or which team you supported (I’m a one-eyed Cantabrian actually) but since you’ve been away we’ve actually formed a huge team – most of us joined it and we call it the Team of 5 million. Our aim – to stomp out Covid-19 in New Zealand
We’d love you to join our team even though you haven’t been through our initiation into the team – but more of that later.
Your experience while overseas will have been totally different from ours, and possibly even scary. Your shutdowns or lockdowns, will have been different too, or perhaps even non-existent. I understand you wanting to come home to be with friends, family and a supportive social welfare system. If I’d been overseas, I’d want to get home to this safe bubble too.
Sadly, there will be no jobs awaiting you, you will be safe from Covid-19, but you may find you will have to stay in friends living rooms or their back shed, as housing is in short supply too. I also suspect, if you don’t have a job you will be at the bottom of the waiting list to rent a flat, house, or apartment. So welcome home, but remember New Zealand still has a low-wage economy and this will continue for quite some time.
We at-home Kiwis have been, and still are, using all our excess dollars to support wages and businesses in the hope that we can get our economy going as quickly as possible. We are also having to use many millions to track and trace those with Covid-19, as well as helping support you too, our returning Kiwi. Sadly, some reporters are searching out the discontented returnees and getting their stories on the front pages. Of course, people are upset they can’t get to see loved ones who are dying, or to funerals. What we are doing is keeping you, and all New Zealanders, safe from coronavirus.
Our team has collectively accepted that ‘we’ are more important than any ‘me’. We understand your hurt and possible anger but that can’t, and doesn’t change our determination and plans.
Luckily, we have a Labour coalition that had put many cents back into our community moneybox, and because of this prudence, we are in a good position to borrow at low rates: because of their excellent fiscal management, our credit ratings are high.
I’m not holding my breath about the fast returning economy though – although it is already improving at a faster rate than expected. As a travel writer, no one needs my skills right now, we’re travelling nowhere – except within our own beautiful backyard, Aotearoa New Zealand – which of course I will be writing about and some off-shore stories for armchair travellers.
So, as I said welcome home, please join our team, a team that was formed with love for our country, a team that daily turned on TV to get 1pm updates from Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Prime Minister Jacinda Arden.
We all knew the daily infection numbers; if another cluster had formed, or increased; and we all were sad when one of ours died. This may seem strange to you, especially if you have come from regions with thousands or millions of infections, and hundreds or thousands of deaths. Perhaps because our numbers were so low, we took pride in those low numbers and how we were all adhering to our lockdown restrictions – we were being ‘kind’ and concerned about ‘us’ not ‘me’. We put teddy bears in our windows for children to hunt for them while on their daily walks.
Of course, a few did not ‘obey the rules’ and were promptly outed on Facebook!
Come on … please join the team
So, you may think our restrictions are over the top, or unneeded, but our team wants them to continue – we want to keep our island bubble safe. Of course, we miss travelling, but we don’t want to join any other bubble unless that bubble is safe too.
Hop into our bubble, join our team, watch our regular updates and be grateful that we appear to have dodged a bullet by having a great team leading us, and one we trust. It seems most countries do not trust their leader’s actions about this coronavirus – and I can see why – no doubt you can too.
Are we perfect? Hell no, we’re human and every mistake is being used to improve our system. Systems that appear to be sadly lacking in many other countries going by the numbers. As I said: welcome home.
Despite coronavirus in cities and countries being locked down, I refuse to be locked in – just as all my ancestors did in the mid-1800s – fleeing Scottish clearances, Cornish tin mine closures and the Irish potato famine.
And despite my trip to China – a river cruise on the Yangtze River -being cancelled, and the fabulous Rainforest World Music Festival -in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, being postponed until further notice, I refuse to be locked in despite the virus and, despite being compromised by age, nothing will stop me, travelling. I remember a song from my parent’s era “don’t fence me in.”
Travel writers have an affliction which, means they, I, we, are doomed to travel and as I said despite COVID-19 and the lockdowns all around the world I am going to keep on travelling.
Yesterday I was in Oman, today I’m in Dubai with my parasol and a few days ago I was back in my home city Christchurch,
I’ve also been down on the Wellington waterfront I’ve seen some birds that I saw in India yet again and I’ve even been upright on a paddleboard in Fiji.
Navratri festival .. longest dance festival in the world
Ernakulm, Kerala, India
Drummer boy, Ernakulam, Kerala
Florida well caught
So, take that coronavirus you’re not going to stop me – my memories are too well embedded for me to be isolated in my lockdown bubble, I can, and will travel the world with my wonderful memories.
What a privilege, it’s been to have travelled so extensively and I’m grateful for the example my parents set of not wasting money, saving, and living frugally as required. they also left me a small inheritance which, after a lot of earlier travel, enabled me to do even more.
I recall being on a plane -in 1995 – petrified that at age 50 I still wasn’t old enough to travel the world by myself (with no bookings).
If I run out of memories, I could be jogged by just some of my clippings or books.
a few of my clippings
and just a few more!
So where are you travelling to while in lockdown? I’ve been to Alaska in bwZimbabwe I’ve been to London, Wales, and Borneo. I’ve been to the USA, Mongolia, Zimbabwe and had a river cruise in Europe – to name but a few.
I’m passing thru Whanganui in a couple of days – heading further north – and we will stop to stretch our legs and have lunch. Here are some notes about the lovely little city.
When planning a road trip to Whanganui www.wanganui.com you soon realise the Bridge to Nowhere seems to have no road either. To see it requires a long hike or a jet boat trip up the Whanganui River.
However, there are many ways to drive to this river city. So, if you’ve been skiing or hiking near Ohakune, I recommend you use the historic and popular, ‘Rural Mail Coach’ route. This scenic route, narrow, windy and beautiful, takes longer than the 106-kilometres suggests. Allow 4 hours or longer if you plan to hike or take photographs on your journey.
Leave State Highway 4 at Raetahi, heading for Pipiriki (27ks) where you will join the 1935-built Whanganui River Road. Pipiriki is the first of many historically significant settlements along the way, each o which have good reasons for you to stop. A little further on is the Omorehu waterfall lookout and the picturesque Hiruharama (Jerusalem). This was home to both James K Baxter and Sister Mary Aubert whose catholic mission and the church is still there.
A few more kilometres on is the restored, two-storied, 1854, Kawana Flour Mill, only a 100-metre walk off the road. Back on the road, just before Koriniti, is the Otukopiri Marae and in 1840, site of the region first Anglican Church.
If you want to stretch your legs, the Atene Skyline Track has a 1½ hour track that takes you across farmland and up to fabulous views of the region. Returning to your car, you will soon be driving through an old seabed, the Oyster Shell Bluffs, before moving onto Parakino and your destination, Whanganui city.
The architecture here is varied. Some of the oldest buildings are the 1853 Tylee Cottage (Cnr Bell and Cameron St), the old St Johns post office (Upper Victoria Ave) and the 3-storied Tudor style Braeburn Flat. It’s also worth visiting St Peters Church (Koromiko Rd), the 100-year old opera house and the award-winning Sarjeant Art Gallery (Institute of Architects Gold medal 1961). This magnificently proportioned building has naturally lit galleries and the steps leading to it are the resting place and memorial to 17 soldiers who were killed in 1865. The buildings in the Queens Park area around the Sarjeant are considered one of the best formal townscapes in New Zealand.
Alongside the river, as well as cafes and the River Boat Centre, is the must-visit Moutoa Gardens, site of an old fishing village and where an 83-day occupation occurred in 1993.
Wanganui is compact and all attractions are within walking distance. The revitalised Victoria Avenue has gaslights, wrought iron garden seats, plane trees and wide paved footpaths. The Thai Villa (http://www.thaivilla.co.nz/ ) is in Victoria Avenue, river end, and this fully licenced and BYO restaurant comes thoroughly recommended. Then, while you are near the river, take a cruise on the restored paddle steamer, Waimarie.
Whanganui has many festivals including a book one early in the year. Another is the Real Whanganui Festival http://www.realwhanganui.co.nz/ that includes the Wanganui Glass Festival which showcases the talent of local artists www.wanganuiglass.com in September 2011
Been searching – on some old CDs – of old pics taken and these took my fancy for no particular reason – except for the Peackok Fountain photo which I think is my best one of it! Next time I’m in Christchurch I will try for a better one with no buildings to be seen! 🙂
Looking through some old photos I came across these and like them … very evocative of Te Waipounamu, Aotearoa, so thought I post them along with a link to a blog about the only Lord of the Rings trip I’ve taken (from Christchurch )
Note: although the watermark says 2019 these pics were taken about 2009
PHOTO attribution: CathedralSquare 2402 By Gabriel Flickr Cathedral Square
It’s some eight or nine years ago that Fodor commissioned me to write about my city – back then we locals were using terms such as ‘the city that shakes’ or ‘shaken not stirred’ and ‘Christchurch rocks’. Christchurch still rocks but in a very different way – it’s great.
In August, this year, one travel writer likened a tram ride in Christchurch to an amusement ride through a disaster zone – I totally disagree as do many others: it is the only New Zealand entry in ‘The 50 Friendliest Cities In The World’ (7th) and it’s also the only New Zealand destination to make it into Fodor’s list of the top 52 places to visit in 2020. I suggest you put it on your bucket list.
Christchurch’s inclusion on Fodor’s Go List 2020 ‘seems to stem in large part from its response to the tragedies that have happened there over the past decade’ said one writer.
“South Island’s largest city is back – and better than ever,” the guide declares, adding that it has “wasted no time getting back on its feet after” after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and 2019 terror attack.
“Not only is Christchurch considered the ‘friendliest city in New Zealand’, according to a 2019 poll, but the evolving metropolis rewards visitors with colonial-era British architecture, enormous parks, panoramic gondola rides, relaxing boat tours down the Avon River, and an exploding public art scene that emerged after the earthquakes.” (Stuff)
However, for many, there is still some confusion as to why many buildings have not yet been replaced, and in particular, the Christchurch Cathedral still sits in ruins.
photo taken at the Quake City Museum
pigeons continue to damage the interior
Every local has an opinion about the cathedral – from knock it down to, restore it totally, keep some old parts and build something new attached to it, get rid of any cathedral in the square, and many variations on those themes.
Pre quake photos:
Being Christchurch born, and having lived through hundreds of quakes I too have an opinion – I believed the cathedral should be reinstated – using their insurance money – it, plus the ‘Square’ itself, had played an important role over the previous 100 years. Because of irreparable damage to many of our Gothic buildings, I believed it was important to maintain as much heritage as we could.
The February 2011 earthquake destroyed the Cathedral‘s spire, part of the tower, and the structure of the remaining building. On the day of the quake, much more of the tower was deliberately demolished as it was thought that people were trapped inside – luckily this wasn’t so, and the rest of the tower was demolished in March 2012. When the church started using a wrecking ball on the cathedral, a court injunction was taken out to stop that work – many people believed it should be demolished, piece by piece, numbering the stones so it could be rebuilt.
Later in 2011, after-shocks meant a steel structure – intended to stabilise the rose window – actually destroyed it and the Anglican Church decided to demolish the building and replace it with a new structure. The church did not consult with locals despite years and years of no, or little city rates – a subsidy paid for by locals, who also helped pay for repairs and a new roof. This made many people angry, resulting in court cases and fundraising to help save the cathedral.
Christchurch Diocesan Synod announced that Christ Church Cathedral would be reinstated after promises of extra grants and loans from local and central government.
The church also says the start of restoration will begin in 2020 and “For most people, the reinstated Cathedral will appear unchanged with its important heritage features retained. It will be safer, more functional, more flexible and more comfortable. It will be better equipped for future worship and civic events.”
And, as for the other gaps in the city-scape, many owners of those buildings have chosen not to build for many reasons. Some will be land-banking them, others will be waiting for the convention centre to be finished (late 2020), while others may be waiting to see what’s missing in the city, what’s needed, and then build that. Many people have said, this wouldn’t happen in Hong Kong, or Singapore – true, but New Zealand has a democracy, and surprisingly, everyone who owns those pieces of land, often converted to car parks right now, actually can make up their own mind as to what, and when, to redevelop.
I can tell you that one building site, on Armagh Street (beside New Regent Street) will not be started for a few months. A large flock of our endangered black-billed gulls is nesting among the concrete and reinforcing wire – as they are protected, nothing will happen to this site until they’ve finished nesting, and if they come back in spring next year, the site will remain undeveloped. An eyesore for many, but possibly a lifesaver for these gulls!
I nested at The Classic Villa, which some years ago was transformed from an Italian style historic home to a 5-star boutique hotel in the cultural precinct of our city centre.
It’s not often I get to bird watch in the centre of the city – of course, Christchurch has the Avon River which attracts native and introduced ducks and other birds, but these little darlings are different.
About 300 critically endangered black-billed gulls (the most endangered gull in the world) have come to the city for summer. Normally nesting on the braided river beds and Canterbury they have set up camp and their nests in inner-city Christchurch, choosing a high-rent area, but pay no rent.
Their preferred, inner-city apartments, are on the site of a partly demolished commercial building one of the many (80%) quake-damaged inner-city buildings. Here, surrounded by islands of concrete and reinforcing steel, no predators are able to steal the eggs or chicks.
Some chicks, unable to fly, and used to nests on the shingle of the Canterbury Plains this high-living has caused problems. When they fall out of their nest they land in the water below, and unable to fly would drown. However, locals who are keeping an eye on them, let the Department of Conservation know and see here, life rafts have been created for them
I sent this letter to the NZ Rugby Union Board 24th April 2019. The topic line said to the Rugby Union “Please forward to the Board Chair (Brent) and Crusaders (Grant) and all board members”
To Brent Impey, Grant Jarrold and your boards,
This is an open letter to you and other rugby fans.
I am 73-year-old All Blacks, Canterbury and Crusaders fan. I’ve been a one-eyed Cantabrian since I began, as a child, listening to the games on the radio and/or standing on the embankment at Lancaster Park with my Dad. I also expected my younger son to play for Canterbury – he played for Shirley, and once, in a junior team, played for Canterbury. Sadly, his coach-father died when he was 12 and then, at 15, a motorbike accident saw his leg being ripped off at the groin – killing his dreams and expectations of a rugby future.
The reason I’m writing is that I want to have my say as I’ve not signed any petition or been included in any poll. I also believe a letter is of more value than a signature.
I want the name ‘Crusaders’ to change. I’m glad the extras have been stopped and I hope the horse and knights will never return – in any form. I was disturbed, no – actually I was horrified – when the team was named in the mid-90s but put it down to ignorance of history and assumed most people/fans would be ignorant too.
That passive acceptance on my part changed in an instant when the white supremacist terrorist killed Muslims in my home city. (I live in Wellington now but you can take the girl out of the city but not the city out of the girl).
You don’t need a history lesson from me, others more qualified will have advised you. I also don’t believe a nation-wide poll should drive your decision either. Just do the right thing for all of us – a decision you will be able to capitalise on, as proof of a team of honourable, inclusive, diverse, people.
Please do not consult the local mosques unless the first question is – do you want to have a say about a name change? You would just be setting them up for more vitriol when you change the name – people not wanting a name change will blame them entirely.
Without a name change, this topic will come up every year. Will fans like me be able to wear our jerseys with pride? Not really. We will still love our team no matter its name or rankings but keeping the name and branding will cause issues for us fans too. If we can’t wear our red and black with pride, I suspect many will lose interest.
Please consider these points when you vote about the name change . . . long before the new season starts, so we, and you, can buy the new red and black kit!
I look forward to hearing from you.
Here’s their bounced back reply: 24th April – I’ve received nothing more.
Thanks for contacting New Zealand Rugby.
We greatly appreciate you taking the time to email us, we’ll do our best to respond to you as soon as possible, however we are currently experiencing a high volume of emails and may require an extra few days.