Review: Christchurch Trip, 3-6 March 2016
After months of planning, a group of 23 Garden Design Society Members gathered in Christchurch. The weather was a beautiful crisp Canterbury weekend - extremely refreshing after the weeks of humidity we had been having in Auckland. Our itinerary each day was jam-packed with gardens to visit, walks and various other activities.
The day we arrived we travelled to Governor's Bay where we were welcome by Sir Miles Warren and his fantastic team at Ohinetahi.
Friday, and up at the crack of dawn for a huge day taking in several gardens on the Banks Peninsula, French Farm, Giant's House, Akaroa Village and Fisherman's Bay Garden.
Saturday was a little more relaxed. Many of us took a cycle tour around Christchurch (and for some of us, it had been a while since we had ridden a bike ...). We then headed out to Broadfields that afternoon with a spur of the moment detour to the Tai Tapu Sculpture Garden exhibition. It was wonderful - we were treated to glasses of wine whilst wandering around the exhibition. It was a mission to round everyone up to head back to the city.
On our final day, we had a guided tour around the majestic Christchurch Botanical Gardens.
There were so many wonderful aspects of the weekend; the gorgeous people we met, the passion they have for their gardens and the craft, the magnificent scenery and the glorious trees. Of course for many of us, it was the first time we had been to Christchurch since the earthquake. Seeing great pockets of emptiness and rubble was heart wrenching. On the flip side is the remarkable rebuild, the resilience of the community and the determined positivity of it all.
Lastly, I have to give a big shout-out to our fabulous bus drivers, Craig and Keith from Banbury Buses. These guys were just amazing! They survived three days of 23 women talking at the top of their voices. We made changes to the itinerary along the way, took detours and had the bus reversing for miles as we had incorrectly directed them. They managed to drive the bus cross-country, along small dirt tracks and manoeuvre cliff edges. We even encountered large mean looking bulls. Never once did Craig or Keith complain and they both went out of their way to ensure we all had a fabulous time. On the Friday evening, Keith took us on an impromptu tour of the inner City and spoke from the heart about the impact of the earthquake on the wider community. It was very moving.