Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Christchurch, New Zealand
Vacationing in Australia and New Zealand a number of years ago, my husband and I stopped in Christchurch, called "The Most English City Outside England." This morning we turned on the radio just as news of the earthquake that killed and hurt so many residents and visitors was broadcast. Our thoughts turned to the people we met during the time we spent there, the magnificent ever-changing scenery of the Central Otago of New Zealand's South Island. Spiny, thickset shrubs of yellow gorse, beautiful but hated by farmers, grows everywhere. Pink, purple and white lupines, randomly thrown from some nature lover's vehicle, dot the sides of the road. Sheep lounge on the hillsides and lull bus passengers into a state of tranquillity.
We listened to stories of gold bearing quartz veins that found active faults formed by earthquakes--I had never thought of earthquakes again in this lovely land until the broadcast this morning but the history of gold in the Otago goes back 150 million years, when it was as mountainous as the Alps. Our tour was headed for Queenstown and the rays of the sun bounced off the 7,550-foot peaks of the Remarkables Mountain Range and shimmered across Lake Wakatipu which means Born Of Gold. The lake is the third largest in New Zealand stretching for more than 50 miles.
Torrential rains had washed away parts of the road leading into Queenstown, along with shops, homes, streets and restaurants, but the town was busy reconstructing and wherever we went we could hear hammers, drills and saws playing a jaunty tune, a tune, I'm sure they will soon be playing again.
Jade, New Zealand's "Stone of Peace," carries spiritual and healing qualities--a belief held by the Maori. We will hold that belief in our hearts and wish New Zealanders well.