We arrived into Christchurch around lunchtime, after a rather wet and dreary visit to the town of Geraldine, known for it's 'English-style' gardens however, our trip resulted in no more than a coffee due to the inclement weather. Our pitch for the evening was in the Christchurch Top10 Holiday Park, it definitely had the best facilities of the trip, and after parking up we headed for lunch at Cobb & Co. The afternoon was spent between the laundry room and tidying up the campervan, a bigger job than we anticipated! Some chill out time followed, including yet another table tennis game, before heading to bed for our last night ("Hurray!" said Craig's back!) The next morning, we returned Tiffany to Britz, and so, for posterity, here is one last photo!
Almost immediately we regretted giving away our wheels as we had to pay for the Uber to the Around the World Backpackers Hostel and with check-in not until 14:00, we went to a local coffee shop, Table at Monks, to kill some time (deliberately close so we didn't need to carry our bags too far). We also used this opportunity to eat some lunch and then we were finally able to check-in to our digs. A private room with a shared bathroom was our setting for the 2.5 night stay.
After spending some time relaxing and getting caught up on some admin we headed into the city for the first time and I think it would be fair to say we were both surprised (if not shocked) by the entirely missing blocks that dotted the city. This was due, of course, to the earthquake on the 22nd of February 2011 that damaged vast swathes of the city which resulted in it being torn down and rebuilt, including a lot of the historical buildings. The land that was awaiting redevelopment however, had been taken over in the short term by companies like Gap Filler, who add artwork or a play park or mini-golf that was amazing to see. For dinner tonight we went to Orleans for a taste of southern America, and sitting outside with live music on a mild evening was a great way to while away the time.
The next day, Craig had an appointment with Zane Swanston at Zealand Tattoo and after a brunch style breakfast at C1 Espresso, off he went to the studio. It has long been a desire for Craig to get a Maori-style tattoo and he finally got his wish (although Katy has started to plan an extravagant shopping trip to keep things fair!)
After the adrenaline had worn off, we were both happy to have a relaxed day and recuperate for our day of exploring tomorrow.
The next day started at Beat Street Cafe for breakfast and caffeine (as you may have noticed, Christchurch loves its' hipster coffee shops - which we obviously fit into) and then headed into town along the River Avon. We criss-crossed the narrow rivers bridges admiring the parks, statues and gardens as we went.
The next stop was to the Quake City museum, set up as an exhibit and memorial to the 2011 quake and the 185 people that died. It was, in some ways, fascinating to see the way the earthquake had changed the city and also humbling to hear the accounts of those who had survived, aided the recovery and those that have been left behind.
Our next stop perhaps highlighted the damage that had been caused by the earthquake, more than the empty blocks, the ChristChurch Cathedral, that still is in a state of disrepair, is missing most of its' front. The was only given the go ahead in 2017, with the remains cordoned off and secured while the decision was being made.
We decided that we had perhaps seen enough sombre scenes for one day and so we headed to New Regent Street, self-proclaimed as New Zealand's most beautiful street! The buildings were pretty and almost Spanish in design and colour although there was a lot of coffee shops!
To escape the city, we walked to the botanic gardens, taking in the beautiful spring bloom as we strolled and also had a good chuckle for 20 minutes as we sat on a bench watching the many near crashes of novice kayakers on the narrow river! After all our efforts, we had a coffee at the Ilex Cafe and shared a delicious, but slab in size, piece of carrot cake.
On our way back to the hostel we took the long way round and stopped at the ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral (or, as it's otherwise know, the cardboard cathedral) as it is substantially made from cardboard! A rather intriguing architectural stop however, not what we were expecting either! Sadly we didn't get to wander inside as there was a private event on.
As it was our last supper in Christchurch we decided to go for the timeless NZ classic and instead went to Mexico! Although unconventional, we thoroughly enjoyed our tapas style of soft-shell tacos and chip 'n' guac'! We walked back one final time and headed to bed for a couple of hours rest.
The alarm went off at 03:00, and after a quick Uber to Christchurch airport, our journey to Sydney and Australia, begins.
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