Journal of a visit to New Zealand, via Singapore

The Land of the Long White Cloud
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Photographs by Gerald England
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This page last updated: 29th November 2005.
Day 6: Christchurch Map

Day 6 The plan for today is to go hot-air ballooning. We are to be picked up from the hotel about 5.15 a.m. Our early-morning alarm-call goes off at 4 a.m. We get up slowly, have tea and the muesli we've saved over from the previous day's breakfast. We are nicely awake, freshly showered and ready to go when at ten minutes to five the phone rings. Due to too much low cloud, the trip is being cancelled!

Had it been cancelled the previous evening we might have been happier, as we could have avoided having to get up so early. We have another cup of tea and read a while. In the end we go back to sleep and the next thing we know is that it is past ten-o'clock. We obviously needed the sleep!

In due course we get ready and face the outside world. A short walk takes us to a friendly looking coffee house which is also an internet café. We have brunch and I check my email.

Across the road is Farmer's, a small department store which has a sale on. Christine buys herself a hat and I find some shorts.

Christine is tired of walking and goes back to the hotel. I wander off down to Cathedral Square to listen to The Wizard. Since 1974 he has been speaking in the Square and can be heard most weekdays from 1 to 2 p.m., November to March. Although the City Council were first opposed to him, he is now regarded almost as an institution. Described by some as a misogynist, today he expounds his theory that the cause of all the wars of this world is "women's need to go shopping!" He is in fact a congenial, accessible gentleman and not a woman-hater at all. After his oration, several of the crowd of three-dozen or so listeners, talk to him. He was born in the UK and I told him I was from Manchester. A young mother who'd been talking to him about the New Zealand education system, asks me where in Manchester I'm from. When I tell her I'm from Hyde, she reveals that she's originally from Dukinfield [the next town] — o what a small world this is! The Wizard tells us that he's heading off to Australia in the afternoon to avoid the New Zealand Census.

There are some others, including a fundamentalist Christian, speaking in the Square, but they are boring and attract few listeners. Others are playing chess on a large board made of paving flags. I visit the Information Centre picking up a number of leaflets and buying postcards. In a pre-loved clothing store I find myself a hat, a nice wide-brimmed one for keeping off the sun. After buying some sandwiches and other provisions, I make my way back to the hotel.

After looking through some of the leaflets I've collected, I try to arrange an evening visit to a Maori concert, but this too has been cancelled today.

Journal - Day 7 Photographs - Day 6