Christchurch was a big tourist town until the big earthquake. They are slowly recovering and regaining status as a tourist town. We went to the cardboard church, now known as the Transitional Church. The architect won awards for building with recyclable materials. The original cathedral will take years to rebuild.
We flew to Melbourne for a 2 night stay. The hotel was an all suite hotel, our rooms were spectacular. The highlights were Queen Victoria Market, Chinese New Year Festival, and Light Up The Night. Melbourne was a city that deserved more attention. We stood on the balcony to watch the fireworks for the Light Up The Night celebrations. I have never been so close or had such a clear view of fireworks.
We left early the next morning for our flight to Cairns. We are doing 3 internal flights in Australia. New Zealand was all busses and miles of farmlands, lakes, rivers, mountains and sheep. Australia is spread out and large cities, not as charming. We are equally divided as a group about the long bus rides in New Zealand, I am on the side that took great pleasure in the scenery and ambiance provided by the bus rides, I am not so big on these flights and the time spent packing and sitting in airports. So far Australia is beastly hot and humid as compared to the fresh breezes of New Zealand.
Smart tours does the majority of sites as a fee based excursion, otherwise, you are on your own. The Great Barrier Reef was company paid. It was a spectacular day, floating above the reef for over an hour, swimming among the fish was an awesome experience. The following day we went on an optional rainforest tour. We saw plenty of trees but no animals. There was also a demonstration of Aboriginal culture, dancing, and boomerangs.
Today we are in Sydney, home is on the horizon.