Alot of people gave their opinion on Christchurch as a city with not a lot going on, however I like making my own decision. It has a dark cloud and stigma over its head due to the 2011 earthquake which destroyed so much of the city, with alot of families still mourning from it, but in the same way theres a sense of rebirth and a new energy which has come out of it. A determination to not let it ruin this community.
Stay in the City
I stayed in 3 hostels during the times here due to location and availability
Getting to the City
History in the City
The city dates back to 1856, when the first settlers came and started fishing harbours around the area, as well as alot of agricultural aspects . With stunning green roaming hills and stunning coastal beaches it was one of the busiest cities at the time. It now boasts a population of over 350, 000 people, and a huge number of students which have flocked to the city since the Canterbury University and art collages.
The recent geographical history being is in a very delicate location in terms of earthquakes, and unfortunately the biggest was in 2011, on February 22nd, and over 815 people lost their lives, and Christchurch lost a lot of infrastructure including the central Church square. When I was walking round these events were still very noticeable, with all the money raised by the residents and also tourism going back into rebuilding it. It was a strange feeling to see a building which had been posted all over social media and the news not so along ago, but also to see the resurrection of such an important landmark of Christchurch.
What I didn’t expect to see is the older buildings along the street of Regent Street, with restaurants, cookie shops, and the traditional cable car driving down it really takes you back in time in a very modern looking city. All the buildings are painted in pastel colours with British roses all planted along the street. It felt like London.
Memories in the City
One of the best memories of the city is the Food Court Market, which is all within the redeveloped city centre full of retail, banks, and food, but this amazing new but old building is full of every kind of food and smells you could need.
There is homage to the cities history everywhere, with the memories living on through the art work, the memorials, the installations with the 185 white chair installation found in the outer city roads, where a chair for each victim was set up within a large green space, all different and spaced out equally… very moving. The murials on the walls are incredible, with some of them huge and some of them so small you may miss them.
One of my favourite fond memories of Christchurch were the trams which look incredible and are looked after so well, they roam around the centre of teh city, with tours, and even evening meals on one of them.
Another is the Cardboard Cathedral, built for people to have somewhere to go worship after the main square was hit my the earthquake, and ended up being a permanent fixture in Christchurchs architecture.
Street Art in the City
Christchurch is a hub of creativity, with the Christchurch art gallery, the art collages, and also the beautiful street art around Christchurch. It brings artists from around the country but also global artists to the streets and colleges. From the impressive Christchurch Art Gallery which houses some of the best Kiwi and Mauri artwork I have seen, to the art on the streets through graffiti, installations and murials. It was incredible to find the newest and the most well known. The art gave Christchurch a personality, and a more modern city feel than any I had seen in New Zealand.
The artwork I saw in the Christchurch Art Gallery, helped me understand the cultures that live within New Zealand from the modern art to the more traditional ones of the Mauri people. I highly recommend going to one of the free walking tours with one of the art curators who give you a great run down of some of the different collections.
Culture in the City
I loved walking round the Hagley Park, which has fountains, green spaces, conservatories and ponds, as well as part of the beautiful Avon Canal running through it under the stone bridges. The culture is very English rose gardens in terms of its park and canals just like Cambridges famous ones. They even let you hire a bunting boat to see the city in a unique way.
With a lot of area for people to relax, enjoy the outdoors and get together with friends there is a really friendly, welcoming feel to the city.
Craters in the City
One of the day trips was an early start for the 8am bus which took me to the southern area of Christchurch called Akorua. The name Akaroa is Kāi Tahu Māori for “Long Harbour”, and is found within a submissive volcanic crater which is now within the ocean, forming the bay. There is the stunning Purple Peak Trek which is around a 8km, 4 hour round hike, up to the edge of the crater top above the bay. As well as some pretty fresh fish and chips shops for when you have finishes along the Sea front. Thee bus only leaves at 8am, and the return bus is 4pm during low season back to the city centre of Christchurch.
It was the first French settlement in New Zealand so has a lot of French influence from the 1800’s, and therefore a little of a romantic atmosphere with wooden built restaurants, hotels and the stunning sunset in the evening over the mountains.
Dolphins out of the City
One of the day trips I did was the 3 hour drive to Kaikoura, famous for its incredible views on the way up as well as the area itself having a resident Dolphin pods who are often seen down the coast in there hundreds every year. The Dolphin Encounters are the only licensed company allowed to take people out, and have strict rules to how many, and what times there are departures to protect the dolphins and ocean. It was an incredible drive and the experience of swimming so close to the Dolphins will stay with me forever.
Read more on my blog post about my Dolphin Encounter ; https://livinglifetotheblonde.com/?p=3968
The biggest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and a city which has had traumatic recent history which it is still recovering from. It was a pleasure to finish my adventure in this city and really see what it had to offer. Its surprisingly one of the favourite cities i visited in New Zealand and would love to visit in the future to see how its progressed.