Oceans and Cities and Hills! Oh, my!Christchurch, Fall 2010
Well folks, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve settled in. Classes are going swimmingly and I’ve got enough food around to last me at least a couple of weeks. Now, at least until assignments start rolling in and building up, it’s time to relax and explore.
That was my intention this past weekend when I got on a bus heading out to a small seaside suburb of Christchurch called Sumner. I was going to hang out on the beach and explore some of the rock formations. (Sumner is nestled in a little valley on the outer edge of Banks Peninsula, which is a crater left over from an extinct volcano). But who did I encounter on the bus, but one of my mates, Mike, headed to the same place! We got to Sumner and had some looks around. I took notice of some unusual basaltic rock formations, including Cave Rock (see pictures below). Cave Rock is exactly what it sounds like – a large rock with a small network of caves beneath it. The reasons for the strange erosion patterns that dug out the caves in this rock are still being studied (by professors at UC, as a matter of fact!), which made the formation all the more interesting!
When we finished exploring the cave we noticed a rather steeply inclined pathway at the end of the beach and Mike wondered aloud where it went. I volunteered that it went around the point to Lyttleton, the small harbor that serves Christchurch. I asked him if he wanted to go take a look. He asked if I thought we’d make it. I replied that I had no idea, which prompted him to say, simply, “let’s go for it.”
As we passed a tiny inlet called Taylor’s Mistake, supposedly named for a crew member on a ship in the 1850s/60s who mistook the tiny village for Lyttleton, it began to get dark. This was probably around 4:30 or 5:00 pm, mind you. We kept walking, though, and eventually (around 6:00) found ourselves in nearly total darkness atop a large hill in the middle of the Godley Head Reserve. The trail continued down the other side of the hill but we decided it was best to follow Summit Road back to the city. We deemed this the safest option since there are no real predatory (to humans, anyway) animals on the South Island.
In retrospect, we didn’t plan very well. The trail really necessitated an entire day and we gave it about 4 hours. But I’m certainly glad we did it. We got some views of the city at night which, judging by the lack of photographs on Google Earth, few people have seen. I’ve posted that picture here, as well as some others from the hike and, as promised, some photographs of campus that I took while I was waiting for the bus. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day. When you consider, too, that it’s winter here, some of the photographs look pretty bleak. I’ll be sure to take some more (especially of campus) when the weather warms up and gets a bit nicer. Until then, these will have to suffice!
(I’ve also included some Google Earth snapshots because I realize that my record of our travel route may have been extremely confusing…)
Until next time,
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