Posted by: thebluemusicblog | December 11, 2012



Josie, the CEO of Christchurch, and her husband Stephen, took the day off to give Ingunn and me a superb Sunday inside and outside of the city. Mostly outside. But we started from the big and beautiful YMCA building, the hostel with excellent accommodation. It was some cracks and traces after the earthquake, but the building had survived well and was now fully operating with 90-100% occupancy, a lot of young students and tourists.


On our way through the beautiful landscape on the peninsula outside Christchurch we got convincing proof of the richness of New Zealand, it is a country  where the dairying is responsible for a massive 25% of export earnings, and 1,5 million hectares are devoted to it. Therefore New Zealand is a world leader in dairying. Fonterra, owned by 13000 New Zealand dairy farmers, is the world’s largest exporter  of dairy products. Cheep and cattle can be seen everywhere in the peaceful pastorale of a New Zealand Sunday morning!

IMG_0618New Zealand is also world famous for Hobbits! The Lord of the Ring’s stunning success has created a state-of-the-art film and special effects industry in New Zealand and made Peter Jackson one of the most influential directors in the movie industry. The trilogy earned $ 2,91 billion and was recognized with 17 Academy Awards!


Now we are on our way to Akaroa, a small town in the middle of an ancient, dormant volcano. Here is a very good harbor, at the inside of a beautiful fjord, and here Stephen used to work managing a Salmon Farm in the fjord. I asked him: “So then you now all the antibiotics and other medicines these fish need?” I spoke with experience from European fish farms. Stephen answered that they are running the fish farms absolutely without medicines, and that showed me the uniqueness of the clean waters here down in the vicinity of Antarctic with the huge Pacific ocean ahead. Stephen and Josie have decided to take us on a dolphin cruise, and we are set for a unique experience again, an experience of the wilderness and the powerful forces of a world ocean beating and hammering the coastline for millions of years.


While we were admiring the wild coast and all the cliffs and caves, we were of course eagerly holding watch to see if we could spot dolphins or seals in the cold water.


The captain on his bridge told us that we were now in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the fjord of Akaroa, and that we were 1600 nautical miles from the ice in Antarctic and 10 000 km away from the coast of Chile, where we had spend a couple of weeks earlier this year with Oscar and his YMCA team in Valparaiso.


And there we saw one, no, two and three of the small dolphins. They are under serious threat of extinction, only 7000 animals left in the world, and most of them in these waters outside Akaroa. In order to keep the relatively high body temperature, these dolphins have to eat 10% of their bodyweight every day . The more difficult it is to find food, the more energy they use to catch it, so it is a dangerous situation for these beautiful animals. But a lot of initiatives are being implemented to protect them and to save them. Meanwhile they swim very playfully around us for a long time! But difficult to get good snapshots of them!


And one more courageous!


The nature is overwhelmingly beautiful, wild, tough and Stephen has worked these waters for years and been very close to be beaten by the gigantic waves and winter storms and he can tell many a tale about the rough life on the sea



In-between we have to find rescue inside the cabin to find shelter from the cold winds, and Josie and Stephen tell us about the YMCA Wainui Camp, just on the other side of the fjord. We are looking forward to visit the camp where the two of them had worked for several years before Josie got the job as CEO for the whole Christchurch YMCA, a pretty big operation, I can tell you!



And just a last photo of the wild coastal landscape, I always had wanted to experience  New Zealand, feeling that the coast and the landscape was similar to my own home country.


Back in Akaroa, the place where the French discoverers landed first time, just to discover that the British and Scottish had come before them!


We continue our own discoveries, the camp Wainui is waiting for us. Wainui means “Big Water”. All schools in New Zealand has a curriculum for outdoors and water sport and environmental awareness, another quite impressive element in the culture of the Kiwis! Therefore schools are lining up to use the famous camp Wainui.

IMG_0803Andrew to the right here is from Manchester, England, and came over as a youth intern some years ago. He was in Hong Kong at the last World Council and got to know Romulo quite well.


Now he has taken over as the Camp Manager after Josie and is running a camp so big that if they use the whole capacity they can organise camp programme for four schools at the same time. Busy schedules!


Amazing what equipment is needed for a camp this size, and impressively orderly organized!

IMG_0809And then a snapshot of me as well just to prove that I also was there. Above is the newest building with first class accommodation, almost too nice to be called a camp!


And next morning, on our way to the airport to fly to Nelson  to meet Helen, a very good friend of both Ingunn and me, treasurer and Officer of the Executive Committee of the World Alliance, we were taken to Bishopdale YMCA, a branch of Christchurch YMCA with all the impressive features of a modern YMCA serving the local community well.

IMG_1516If you have a feeling that we made very good friends in Christchurch, you are absolutely right. Go and visit them, it is an extremely interesting city surrounded by stunning nature. And in the middle of all that? A well functioning YMCA changing lives for so many people.

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