Posts Tagged With: new zealand

The long drive, Hobbiton, and NaNoWriMo

Hola amigos!

Yes, once again it’s been a while since a blog post. This time, I lay the blame on NaNoWriMo – or, as it’s known to n00bs, Nation Novel Writing Month. I’ll get to that in a minute.

So, since last time, we decided to drive from Auckland to Christchurch for some reason – about fifteen hours.

On our way, we accidentally stumbled into Middle Earth somehow. We took two hours and explored Hobbiton, then got a drink at the Green Dragon Pub. Here are a few photos:

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(Check out the full album here.)

After that we continued our long drive (long, but nothing compared to my Yellowknife or Bust adventure), stopping in Wellington for the night. We took a ferry the next morning – it was pretty big.

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Apparently it holds about ten thousand people, which is a lot of people.

The rest of the drive was pretty boring, except for the cool scenery and one time where we almost ran out of gas in the middle of the desert. I saved us, though, by continuing to drive until I found a gas station.

So we’ve been settled in our new flat for a while now. I’m back at the pallet factory and Kylie is done school finally. We’re going to both work until her graduation on December 19, and then explore all that New Zealand has to offer.

In the meantime, though, I am hard at work writing.

November is National Novel Writing Month – a challenge where tons of people across the world attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days. I tried this last year and only got about 13,000 words, but this year is different.

I was already well into my attempt at a novel, and I’m using NaNoWriMo as a push to finish it. Currently, I’ve written 96,547 words for my manuscript – my goal is 100k, but it looks like it will finish off closer to 115k – and 26,975 of that has come in the month of November. By the end of today, to stay on the pace of 1,667 words per day, I should be at 26,672 – thanks to a fevered writing session last night where I wrote two day’s-worth, I was able to take the time out to write this blog.

Soon, I’ll be posting stuff about the novel, like asking people to edit it, or how I should go about trying to get it published, etc. In the meantime, you can check out the synopsis and prologue at the following link:

TWIN KILLERS on Tablo

Any feedback is more than welcome! I have another 25 chapters already written if the prologue piques your interest.

Thanks for reading all y’all, follow me on my social media things!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Christchurch, Holiday, New Zealand, Novel, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First impressions of Auckland

Hey all!

So I’ve been in Auckland for just over a week now, and I have to say: my original impression that it was similar to Toronto was pretty off base.

The first Saturday we were here, Kylie and I went out to experience the night life – only, there was none. Everything closes at around five o’clock, even on weekends. Luckily exceptions include grocery stores and McDonald’s, but I was pretty disappointed. There aren’t very many bars, either! I’m looking closer into that, though.

So far, despite the tame nightlife, Auckland is so much better than Christchurch. It’s much warmer – in fact, most mornings I eat my breakfast outside on our patio in a t-shirt. Considering it’s the dead of winter here, this is amazing.

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The scenery is beautiful and lush. It makes you feel like you’re on a tropic island somewhere – which technically we are I suppose. Our house is at the bottom of a huge hill, so my leg muscles have been getting quite a workout as well.

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The bus system took a little longer to figure out, and is a bit more expensive, but after using the buses and trains for the last week we’ve pretty much got it sorted.

I went into Background Talent and signed up for that again, so hopefully I’ll be getting some more work with them, so I can see my face for ~1 second on a television. They were super friendly and took a bunch of photos of me, so that’s cool too.

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I’ve pretty much realized that around the beginning of September, I’m going to have to rent a car. I’m psyching myself up to drive on the wrong side of the road, especially since, after our trip to Australia, we’re going to drive from Auckland back to Christchurch for Kylie’s last term. It’s about 15 hours so it’ll definitely be a test.

Other than that, I have the house of eight flatmates to myself during weekdays, since I’m the only one here who is on holiday and not working. I pass the day by reading, writing, and doing 15 second covers of songs for Instagram.

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I’m happy to announce I’ve reached the 100-page mark in my attempt at a novel, and still have plenty more to go on! My soft deadline of the end of November to finish seems as if it may be in reach. If any of you consider yourself editors, let me know if you’d be down to peruse the draft!

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I’m finally getting around to sending postcards, about four months after getting here. Again, if you’d like one, let me know via some sort of social media before the end of the week.

Other than that, keep it real and follow along with the adventures! They’re going to get exciting, as there is plenty to do in Auckland on the weekend.

Twitter: @CamMParkes               

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Australia, Blog, Holiday, Music, New Zealand, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heading down unda’

Good news, everyone!

 

 

So back in April, I was able to cross coming to New Zealand off my bucket list – something that’s been there since I first learned that the setting for the Lord of the Rings was here. While I haven’t seen the Shire yet, I’ll be doing so in the next little while as we’re moving to the North Island, where it’s situated (yeah, New Zealand is actually two islands. Who knew?).

Now, I’ll officially be able to cross visiting the land down under off that list, too. Kylie and I booked our flights yesterday – we’ll be in Australia from September 28 to October 8. Needless to say, I’m super psyched to get warm, visit some beaches, scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, surf on some waves, ride some kangaroos etc.

Back to the moving thing, I’ve given notice to my employer and landlady, so it’s really happening. On Thursday we head up for the weekend, then one more week of work and shitty 6:50 a.m. wakeups, and off to Auckland for eight weeks. Definitely pumped to be done with stacking wood.

In other news, I broke 60 pages into my attempt at a novel, hovering at about 19,000 words currently – I’m thinking I’m about 1/5th done, probably. So that’s cool – the goal is to be done by the end of November, currently.

The next update will be nice and long, as I’ll have a bunch of Auckland stuff to talk about!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Australia, Blog, Holiday, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Casino nights and creative stints

Oh man, it’s been about two weeks since my last update. WAIT, I CAN EXPLAIN!

Things have been quite busy around here the last little while. We’ve managed to successfully get a place in Auckland as of July 31, which is a huge relief since it means we won’t have to camp out in a park or something. We fly down the 31 to August 2 for our first trip, then again on the 9 for good. Or, well, for eight weeks at least.

Kylie and I also went to the Christchurch casino for the first time, along with some friends; the casino has an all-you-can-eat burger night on Thursdays, so we partook in that before hitting the slots. After losing about ten dollars, a well-timed max bet netted me over five grand, so needless to say, the night was a success in the end. You’re not allowed to take pictures in the casino, so here is a representation of what happened.

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You can tell I used to draw comics for a living, can’t you? Anyways, that comic isn’t the only form of creativity I’ve been practicing these last weeks. I mentioned in a previous post that I had been frequenting a site called Sporcle – it’s a site with tons of quizzes and you should definitely check it out if you have the time (and let’s be real, if you’re reading this, you have the time)! When you do, you should start by checking out the quizzes I have created, spending hours and hours getting them just right. Links are here:

Monopoly quiz – think you know Monopoly?

Zelda: Majora’s Mask logic/knowledge quiz – Logic and knowledge required.

Zelda: Ocarina of Time A-Z – Name the items associated with the best game of all time.

 

I’ve also been trucking away at my “novel” – I’ve set myself a personal goal of the end of November to be finished. I’m forty-seven pages in so far (~15,600 words) so it’s going well. I’ve been pushing myself to add 500 words per day and have mostly kept it up for the past while.

On the other end of the artistic spectrum, Kylie and I have been creating some lovely music, so here are some more links for you to check out, share, like, subscribe to, whatever you do on YouTube.

Hey Ho – Lumineers cover

No Rain – Blind Melon cover (featuring flute)

And I have a few on SoundCloud too:

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I think that about covers the links I wanted to give you! I’d have way more content if I hadn’t finally decided to watch Breaking Bad. Holy shit, I just…wow.

Oh! I also lost my onesie virginity on Thursday.

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More updates soon: Auckland in less than two weeks!

Follow along for updates, pictures and 15-second covers:

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

(Ok there were two more links.)

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Christchurch, Early Saturday, Music, New Zealand, Place to see in Christchurch, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going-ons in Christchurch

Hi all – sorry for the longish absence. It’s been a busy last little while!

First off, happy belated Canada Day, and happy current Independence Day for all those ‘muricans that may read this.

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I’ve now been in Christchurch, New Zealand for three months, and things are changing up a bit. Kylie and I celebrated our eleven months the other day, and as well, we got a room together at one of my landlady’s other houses – it’s only for five weeks or so, until we go to Auckland, but in addition to getting to live together, it’s saving us both a lot on our rents, which is nice.

Recently, we’ve been taking advantage of a sweet deal at the movies (five tickets for 50 bucks) and seeing all the new films as they come out. We’ve seen Transformers 4, 22 Jump Street, Edge of Tomorrow, a delightful NZ film called What we do in the Shadows, X-Men: Days of Future Past, probably more that I’m missing, and last night we saw How to train your Dragon 2.

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In line for next week is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and shortly after that, Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s been fun! When we’re not doing that, we’ve been busy looking for rooms, flights, etc. We have a good lead on a room in Auckland that won’t break the bank, and we’re hoping to confirm getting it this week. We’ve also started planning our trip to Australia, which will be in the first week of October most likely, and even started looking at flights home (gotta book early!) for some time in the new year.

In other news, I’m just over 10,500 words into my attempt at a fantasy novel, and the ideas are still flowing, so that’s good; I’m also creating quizzes on Sporcle – only one so far, but I have ideas. It’s just over a month into winter here, and the lowest the temperature has dipped is -2 degrees C. On average it’s about 12 degrees, so that’s nice.

Kylie got a job at a jewellery kiosk in the mall, so that’s keeping her busy as well as bringing in more income. Yay! Also, we’ve started doing covers of songs! Check it out on my Instagram (link below) or my YouTube page. Our goal is one per week.

To celebrate three months in New Zealand, here are some words we say that they say differently:

Us vs. Them

Counter – Bench
Trunk (car) – Boot
Gas – Petrol
Pop – Fizzy
Five-thirty (time) – Half-five
Canada – Canadia

That’s all for now, keep following for more updates.

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Christchurch, Early Saturday, Holiday, List, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the north

Hello all! Apologies for the lack of blog posts recently; it was my birthday week and so I’ve been getting belligerently drunk all day every day for the last seven or eight days.

JUST KIDDING! I’ve been going to bed at 10 p.m. so I can get up to go to the pallet factory. But I’m only there for another 8 weeks or so; after that, I’m moving up to Auckland!

What!? Well hey now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. These things –that is, life recaps – have to be done in chronological order; it’s the rule.

You may have noticed a few semicolons used in the past few paragraphs (if you didn’t, don’t worry, at least you’re pretty); I’ve been working on my future-best-selling novel and have slowly become comfortable using them – correctly or not remains to be seen – again after having them beaten out of me at the Gazette. I’m pumped with the progress I’ve made, although it is slow going. They say every story has a beginning, middle, and end, right? Well, I’ve written the beginning and end, and now all I have left to do is fill in the middle. Should be easy!

In other news, I had a winter birthday for the first time ever. Apparently June 1 is the first day of “winter” in this strange land?

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Anyways, to celebrate, I went to a bar with about five or six young women – Kylie, her flatmates and their friends. I felt old.

Kylie, being the creative entity she is, got me a few awesome gifts:

Yeah, it's a Zelda mug; fill it with hot water, and the heart container fills up.

Yeah, it’s a Zelda mug; fill it with hot water, and the heart container fills up.

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As you can tell, the theme this year was “mugs.” She also got me some books and candy, and her flatmate Susie got me a very rude card as well.

So now, onto the travel plans! It all actually seemed to come together rather nicely, as if the universe were saying “hey guy, you should go to Auckland, or something.” I applied for a radio internship in Auckland, and although I didn’t get it (at least, I haven’t heard from them yet and it starts on the 16 so I assume that) it got me thinking it’d be exciting to check out Auckland. Then, Kylie’s placement coordinator sent out an email saying they wanted people to do their placements outside of Christchurch. THEN, one of the airlines offered some pretty sick deals for flights, including some to Auckland and back. So we’re heading up at the end of July just for a weekend to take my bag of stuff and one of Kylie’s bags, find a place, check out the lay of the land, etc. Then, August 9 we head up again, taking Kylie’s remaining bags, and we’ll be there for like two months or something. Pretty exciting!

I’m now counting down the days until I move on from the pallet factory. I’ll be pursuing the background talent stuff so who knows, maybe I’ll become a huge New Zealand star?

Doubtful, but follow me just in case.

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Auckland, Blog, Holiday, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Handling wood like a pro

Happy hump day all y’all! I’ve worked for a week at my job handling wood now, and I’ve come up with a list of imperative dos and don’ts you need to follow, should you ever find yourself surrounded by wood.

Size matters.

 

When it comes to wood, size is everything – so much so, in fact, that if a piece of wood is off by more than three millimetres, it has to be recut. There’s an age-old adage that says something like “measure twice, cut once” – I didn’t bother looking up the exact words – but that’s actually an understatement if anything; you really need to measure five times, cut once, then measure the wood you cut to make sure it’s right. Also continue to measure periodically, as the blocks tend to shift slightly, and 1mm is all it will take to ruin you. My saw partner and I spent two hours yesterday unstacking a pallet of cut wood to shave off five millimetres from the ends, because the kids who cut it weren’t careful. New saying: measure all the times, and then cut.

Handling wood can be messy.

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I learned this extremely obvious one the hard way. On my first day on the job, I wore my other pair of jeans – for the record, I had two pairs: my black ones I wear every day, and some blue ones; I’ve since bought more – and they immediately went from nice jeans, to work jeans only. Little wood pellets, sawdust, dirt, and paint now adorn my formerly-classy jeans – and even a quick rinse in the washer won’t fix that now.

Wear the proper protection.

Well this is a classic one. When dealing with wood, it’s necessary to use protection for your safety, as well as the safety of those around you. The people in charge say that, when you’re cutting and stacking wood, you don’t need to wear safety glasses, just ear plugs. False. I can’t count the amount of times –okay it’s seven – where I’ve had to stop because a bit of dust leapt off the wood right into my eye. It doesn’t help that we have giant doors there, and the wind blows through them all day every day. I also went about ten minutes on my first day without gloves; that was dumb. So, so dumb.

Be gentle but firm with the wood.

If you’re getting the wood onto the belt in order to cut it, there’s a technique to it. You have to use physics and science and whatnot to swing it on. However, if you do this too violently, the long-ass wood will snap, which is really damn inconvenient. You have to roll the wood, coax the wood, but you can’t let it rule you. When stacking cut wood into piles, it’s okay to kick it into place, but not too hard. Your steel-toe boots can damage the poor thing.

Don’t try to handle too much wood by yourself.

 

The biggest wood I’ve had to handle thus far was planks of the stuff measuring 3.6 metres. That’s pretty long wood. Since the planks are relatively thin, handling one is no problem; however, if there are two or three stacked on each other, I need my partner’s help. It’s important not to try to take on more wood than you can handle, because it can cause things to get messy and slow down production. Remember: don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help handling large loads of wood.

Embrace the wood jokes.

As a worker in an all-male plant handling tons of wood, you have to be able to take the jokes that inevitably come despite you doing nothing at all to bring it upon yourself. Also, for some reason, the radio station on in the factory – side note, it’s called myFM…weird! – always plays Timber by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha (did I spell that right?), and when it comes on, it’s appropriate to do anything from smirking when she yells timber, to singing and dancing along with the song. As long as the boss isn’t around, anyways.

Follow along with my adventures with wood!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Blog, Christchurch, List, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning to handle wood

Hello lovely people! Also, non-lovely people; I don’t discriminate.

Let me start off by saying in the last two days, I’ve seen and handled more wood than I’ve ever had to before.

 

WAIT. LET ME EXPLAIN.

 

Last weekend, I grew weary of living the dream – that is, I got bored with not having anything to do all day, plus my bank account was a little lower than I liked – so I applied to a bunch of jobs. I got an interview for two; the first was a temp agency, the second a courier position. I didn’t get the courier job because I surprisingly failed a New Zealand geography test. Fortunately, the temp agency interview consisted of watching some videos and filling out paperwork. I went in at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, and left at 11 a.m. with a job lined up for the following morning. I’ve been working there for the last two days, and the first day left me incapacitated and unable to write about it – it involves working at a pallet-building company from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. We’re not allowed phones on the floor, but here’s an approximate picture of what it looks like.

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It’s not hard work – it consists of cutting, stacking, nailing, or painting wood. It surprisingly doesn’t get all that boring, and the time goes pretty quickly. The only problem is that to get there I have to walk 15 minutes, take a bus, and then walk another half-hour. But for 115 bucks a day I’ll put up with it.

It’s also a pretty good job because it’s basically a free gym membership; while the wood doesn’t weight much, repeated lifting, twisting and placing will have me in shape in no time. Not to mention the hour of walking every day.

In the meantime, a few other things are on the go; I applied to a travel-writing thing which I should hear back from soon – if I win, I get to go on a 10-day excursion through Europe and write about it. I’m also applying for an internship (paid! Suck on THAT Canada) for a popular radio station here, so we’ll see how that goes.

Now, I must be off; I am going to see X-Men: Days of Future Past now. I’ll let you know how it is!

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Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

Categories: Adventure, Blog, Christchurch, New Zealand, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visiting Riccarton House & Bush

Sundays exists for the sole purpose of doing nothing. You can lie in bed all day, walk around in your pyjamas, and get piss all done. However, since most days have been like that for me recently, today I decided to get out and see more of Christchurch. Kylie and I went to explore a local art market at the Riccarton House. We took a nice, leisurely walk down there – it took us about 20 minutes – in beautiful autumn weather.

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While it was smaller than I expected, it still had some pretty cool stalls.

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A lot of the stuff there was handmade, and some of the stalls’ owners were spinning the wool as we watched. The results were pretty cool.

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After we browsed for a bit, we noticed a path leading to the Riccarton Bush; this is a fenced off area with no predators allowed in, that contains some of the oldest, largest, and rarest trees in Canterbury.

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There was quite big loop trail that went through the forest, and a bunch of different plant specimens to look at. Eventually I got hungry so we left, but not before Kylie got a picture with a big tree resembling the Deku Tree.

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Definitely another place worth visiting in Christchurch; the arts market is only on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so plan accordingly. The Bush is open while the sun is up, though, so take your time and enjoy the scenery.

On another note, we also saw Godzilla the other night. Fan-freaking-tastic. It really takes me back to when I was about ten, watching the last version of Godzilla to come out. There isn’t much plot; some guy who looks like a mix between Frodo and Harry Potter is the son of Bryan Cranston and does a bunch of stuff then Godzilla shows up. I also found out that X-men: Days of Future Past comes out on the 22nd here, as opposed to the 23rd in Canada…so I’ll be sure to post a full, spoiler-filled post before you have the chance to see it.

Don’t miss it!

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

Love,

CP

 

Categories: Adventure, Blog, Christchurch, Holiday, New Zealand, Place to see in Christchurch, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Places to see in Christchurch: Re:START

Hey all! I’ve decided to explore Christchurch and write about interesting aspects of it. This is my first post in a series called Places to see in Christchurch. Enjoy!

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Christchurch, New Zealand, is still very much a city in the rebuilding phase. On February 22, 2011, New Zealand’s second-largest city was hit by a powerful earthquake that killed 185 people and caused an estimated $40 billion cost to insurers. Some economists said it may take between 50 and 100 years for New Zealand’s economy to completely recover.

However, the Kiwis didn’t sit around and complain; they got to work to make things better. One innovation that sprung into being a scant eight months after the disaster is called Re:START – affectionately referred to as the Container Mall.

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It’s not only innovative, but beautiful as well. The services there range from coffee, to clothing, to books, to Lululemon apparel, to temporary banks – in fact, since it opened in October 2011, the number of stores has gone from 27 to over 50.

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As you can tell from the photos, the stores are set up in shipping containers. While it isn’t uncommon to see all kinds of containers being used for a variety of purposes around Christchurch now, when it was proposed in 2011 it was a unique idea.

 

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The significance of this idea was huge; having shops open and accessible was paramount  for bringing tourism back to the Christchurch Central Business District. While approximately 80 per cent of the CBD was demolished in the earthquake, Re:START is a not only proof that stores can be rebuilt in the city’s heart, but it was also a means to get retailers open much more quickly than they could have been otherwise.

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The Container Mall has been operating successfully since 2011, bringing tourism and hope back to Christchurch’s city core. It has everything you’d expect at a regular mall, but has the added benefit of being outdoors. Due to its success, preparations were able to get underway to create a more permanent structure called Cashel Square; you can see them preparing the area here.

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From what I understand, the containers that are moved will be used elsewhere for an equally important purpose. Re:START was made possible by an interest free loan of over $3 million, as well as sponsorships – and it was definitely a worthwhile investment.

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If you’re in the area, I’d recommend taking the time to see this gem, situated in the middle of the CBD. The juxtaposition of the orderly container stores against the ruins of buildings and rubble will really make you pause, think, and appreciate the enormity of what happened, and applaud those who did something about it. They remember what happened…

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Bridge of Remembrance

 

…but they don’t let it hold them back.

 

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Yesterday is history, ’tis so far away. Yesterday is poetry, ’tis philosophy. Yesterday is mystery, where it is today. While we shrewdly speculate, flutter both away.

 

Twitter: @CamMParkes

Instagram: cam_parkes

 

Love,

CP

 

Categories: Adventure, Blog, Christchurch, Holiday, New Zealand, Place to see in Christchurch, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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