We landed in Christchurch 3 days before the largest earthquake in the last 80 years--7.1 on the richter scale to be exact. It happened at 4:30 in the morning. We jolted out of bed to grab the kids while the earth beneath our feet (the walls, floor, and ceiling to be exact) rippled tossing us into walls while throwing plates and dishes and picture frames to the floor. The house and the family all came through unscathed, but there is quite a bit of damage to buildings and homes around town. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/09/photogalleries/100903-new-zealand-earthquake-christchurch-pictures/#/christchurch-new-zealand-earthquake-intersection_25581_600x450.jpg
There have been over 800 aftershocks since- http://www.christchurchquakemap.co.nz/
We have suffered a little bit of blame since we left CA and arrived 3 days prior. Some people have said we may have brought it with us.
At the time, we were staying at the home of some very wonderful people, Rick and Lynn Vandertie, and Katie Hess, friends of friends who graciously opened their home to us having never met us before. Many thanks Rick and Lynn and Katie for their generosity. You saved us from our 1 room sleeping quarters at the NOLS branch.
We've rented a home in the coastal town of Sumner--just 2 km from the beach. We can hear sheep bleeting from our backyard (apparently not too uncommon in New Zealand). Ella has graduated to a big girl bed, and to this point has only fallen out once! We slept on the floor for the first four days but finally scored a mattress off of trademe (New Zealands version of ebay and craigslist rolled into one) yesterday.
We went for a nice tramp (NZ for hike) on a track (NZ for trail)- this is a 5 minute drive from our place, reminiscent of the Marin Headlands:
We leave for an overnight in Kaikoura tomorrow morning with some NOLS students. We will be visiting a working Marae and staying in a sacred Maori temple. Kaikoura means crayfish and the seafood is supposed to be great. Time to go to bed.