On January 1st 2012 I travelled to Christchurch to begin a 3 week holiday. The first 9 days were spent touring most of the South Island on an AAT Kings coach tour. It was the first time I’d been on one of these tours by myself so was very nervous. I was also nervous going to Christchurch where the earthquakes had recently started up again. It had been fairly quiet between July and early December 2011.
After the tour my parents were joining me and we were going to hire a car and tour around the top of the South Island and bottom of the North Island.
I hate the whole act of packing. I’m always so nervous that I’ve forgotten something even though I can normally buy what I do forget. My flight was around 9am which meant I had to leave home at 6.15am to drop my car off at the parking place and go to the airport. Once I was at the airport I could finally relax.
The flight with Air New Zealand was relaxing and uneventful. Just the way I like it. Once I arrived I went straight to the Vodafone booth to buy a prepaid mobile phone to use while in NZ. It was there that I met Carol and her teenage children Bec and Brad. We realised we were doing the same tour, staying in the same hotel and have remained friends since. The coach company arranged for us to be taken to our hotel, the Heartland Cotswold Hotel. It turned out to be a really nice tudor-style hotel. I had a ‘room’ with a loungeroom, bedroom and the largest bathroom I’ve seen. Whereas Carol, Bec and Brad had 3 single beds in one room. It was strange how the hotel allocated the rooms. I loved it though.
After unpacking I went for a walk down the road but was unnerved by the amount of earthquake-damaged houses. I didn’t realise that we were only about 1 km away from the CBD and only one block away was where the red zone originally started (the red zone is the earthquake-damaged CBD. Gradually the zone has been reduced so it now covers quite a small area of Christchurch). I decided to turn back and have a rest in the hotel. At dinner time I walked to the Tudors restaurant which was onsite. I ate what was probably the most beautiful meal of the whole trip.
After dinner I watched tv. At around 10.10pm I felt my first earth tremor in NZ. At first I thought it was a bit of fun and rang Mum back in Melbourne to tell her. Unfortunately it was only the first of five I would feel that night culiminating in a biggish one that made the news in London.