I found myself at the airport yet again, as I continue my tour across New Zealand. It was time to dip my toes into the south island and plant myself in Christchurch for the next 5 days.
I discovered that New Zealand is very trusting. In the tiny Wellington airport all I had to do is check in my suitcase without going through any kind of security afterwards. No questions about whether I’m carrying liquids, no interrogation on if I packed my suitcase myself and I didn’t have to put my backpack through the scanners until it was boarding time. Which is a little bizarre if you’re in a rush to make it on your plane.
I also saw Gandalph flying a giant eagle over the waiting area in Wellington airport. New Zealand is awesome.
After the shortest plane journey of my life, 36 minutes later I was landing in Christchurch. After the agonising experience of seeing almost everyone claim their luggage whilst still waiting for mine to appear, I was on my way to my place. Gone was the bath tub I had come accustomed to after staying in a couple of bleak hostels beforehand, it was replaced by a pretty swanky bathroom and a queen sized bed, yes I said a QUEEN sized bed, I made it to my studio apartment type room.
I decided to spend the late afternoon having a walk around the local area and grabbing a bite to eat. After going 2016 only having about one McDonald’s meal I have now tripled that in the past week. My body now hates me.
I woke up today after an amazing nights sleep and was in the mood for a hike, so I decided to take a 2 hour journey to see what are known as the Southern Alps. The journey was a good one, with the perfect cool and breezy weather making it a pleasant experience. Once again I was taken back from how you can go from city life to an amazing natural landscape that often surrounds the cities in New Zealand.
I got my rest by taking a Gondola (a zip line capsule, not the boat) to take me up to the very top of the mountain. The views were incredible. In front of me was the tip of the mountain and behind me became a view of the entire city. My finger work on my camera made sure that every part of my body got an exercise today.
Once the gondola made it to the top a conveniently placed cafe gave you a 360 degree view from the top of the mountain. My luck meant that when I first arrived the peak was covered in fog, so my only view was of whiteness. I had no idea what I was looking down on.
One tea and a hot chocolate brownie later the fog began to clear. The sun was slightly shining and a view of the huge pond, the distant city and green hills began to occupy my surroundings. The view was incredible. The air felt so pure and fresh and the moment was only made even more amazing with the sounds of birds singing in the distance. It truly was a sight to see.
Afterwards there was a ride named “Time Tunnel” that required me to sit in a moving pod and took me through the history of Christchurch. It was a very vague mention of the history and didn’t even touch upon the devastating earthquake that hit the town in 2011, but I was amazed by the impact some of the people from Christchurch had made on the world. This included the man who created the jet boat and the first man to take flight.
Randomly, before I have slept the past few nights I have been catching up on the latest season of The Amazing Race (if you have never seen the show, it’s incredible) and the host, Phil Keoghan, had a mention in this segment. Pretty frikin cool.
The time had come to make my way back down and take a load more photo’s whilst I did. I noticed a bus stop outside the place once I made it to the bottom which confirmed that 1) Google Maps is a liar and 2) my poor legs couldn’t take another 2 hour trek back.
Once I had made it back to the city centre I decided to check out a place called Re:START Mall. Each store was made from shipping containers with plenty of independent shops and places to eat, the hipsters from Shoreditch would have been in their element!
I then decided to take a walk to Christchurch Cathedral, one of the biggest victims of the 2011 earthquake that devastated the city. The contrast of new and old in Christchurch is striking. The destruction the earthquake left is still plain to see. There’s construction work going on everywhere to resurrect and replace the ones that fell victim. It’s an eerie feeling to see the damage made to these buildings.
The cathedral itself is a focal point. With construction taking place to fix what’s left, it is treated as a point of interest to celebrate its past and to inform of what exactly happened and the devastating effect the huge earthquake had.
What was amazing to see is the contrast between the old and the new. The disaster sites were surrounded by the bright new rebuilding that had and is taking place. There really isn’t a sad or morbid feeling around the effected areas, in fact it’s the opposite. The locals create an incredible vibe, one of excitement that comes with all the possibilities the rebuild brings.
There’s already so much to do in Christchurch and by the looks of all the construction there will be a whole lot more. I would love to see what this city becomes in 10, 15 or 20 years time.
Travelling across New Zealand and learning about its Maori culture, it’s amazing to see the importance art has in this beautiful country. Street art is strongly celebrated in all of the places I’ve been lucky enough to visit and this isn’t evident any more than it is in Christchurch. It seems as though there is an art shop on the corner of every street.
Every road you walk down you’ll see amazing graffiti work on sides of buildings, construction sites, and a celebration of all things creative that also includes street music. The whole culture of not only Christchurch but the whole of New Zealand is something that is very easy to fall in love with.