Te Araroa Trail Day 88. Blenheim – Christchurch – Zero Day off trail

The Kaikoura Coastline

Te Araroa Trail Blenheim to Christchurch

After a noisy night camping next to the SH6 in the Top 10 Holiday Park in Blenheim, I hopped on the bus at 8am to Christchurch. I discovered that the SH1 had re-opened in December. This was following the +7 magnitude earthquake in 2016. The quake brought down numerous huge slips and destroyed main rail and road links to Kaikoura. Even now it’s only open during daytime hours as there is still a lot of work going on & some parts aren’t finished yet.

We went through Seddon (named after an ex prime minister who was born there) which I’d heard of, as they get lots of quakes too. Next we passed Grassmere lake, a large natural lagoon protected by the sea by a large sand bank. Fifteen square kms of it used are used for making salt. Sea water is pumped in and during the dry summer the warm winds evaporate the sea water leaving the salt.

Newly-opened Kaikoura coastline

I last drove the Kaikoura coastline around 10 years ago. I forgot about the impressive backdrop of the Kaikoura ranges and quite how beautiful the coastline is. As the bus headed South we passed by the giant landslides and uplifted sea bed caused by the quake. We passed huge piles of debris, and several enormous landslides. I’d seen it on TV of course but couldn’t believe how large they actually were. It’s an amazing feat of engineering that they managed to clear it all in just over a year.
Last time I came, I visited the seal colony upstream/inland from the coast – apparently that was destroyed in the quake, but the seals were still present – sunbathing on the rocks on the coast side. We had a 30 min stop in Kaikoura which hadn’t changed much from how I remembered it.

Into Christchurch

We pulled into Christchurch in the early afternoon and that’s when I had a real shock, and a lump in my throat… half of Christchurch CBD had vanished! 🙁 I wasn’t sure what to expect as I hadn’t been since the quakes in 2011, but I didn’t expect quite so much of it to be gone! I can’t imagine how it must have been before it was all cleared, and how terrifying an ordeal it would have been to go through it. Now there are heaps of empty lots, car parks & new buildings going up.

I wandered around for a while and then enjoyed an early dinner in Duo – just around the corner from my hostel, serving amazing dumplings. This will be the last time I eat out for a while, so I thought I’d better make the most of it!

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