We spent quite a bit of time just walking around in Christchurch. The rest of the time we just slobbed around. It was cool.
It’s called the Garden City and it certainly lives up to its name. Not just in the gardens of the suburbs like Merivale where. We stayed but in the parks and public gardens. Along with the wide streets this makes it a great place to walk through.
There is, of course, the earthquake or quakes. The effect of these has been and continues to be massive. The centre is still pretty well closed to traffic. There are many, many vacant ‘sections’ or plots where big buildings have been demolished. Others still wait to be knocked down. So many were badly damaged that they are still working on demolition two years after the first quake.
There is also the effect on the underground infrastructure. There are miles of roadworks where water and gas and electrical supplies are being repaired. It is really quite a distressing sight.
But the kiwis are getting there. One nice touch is the Container Mall right in the city centre. With many of the main stores gone they’ve brought in freight containers and fitted them out, very smartly, as shops, cafes and restaurants. There is a very lively scene there during the day. We spent and hour or so strolling around, buying a few gifts and joining the people hanging out in the cafes. There’s a very positive vibe there.
Good on yer, Christchurch.
The Container Mall.
Riccarton House is an old house by New Zealand reckoning. It is usually open to the public but closed for repairs at the moment, presumably of damage due to the quake. It is approached by a magnificent park of huge trees, some of the largest in the island.
The other main feature is the Riccarton Bush. This is a conserved area of native bush right inside the city. It is surrounded by an anti-predator fence. It’s an extraordinary place. When you walk into it the atmosphere changes abruptly. We noticed this in the bush up near Jenny’s place.
Outside the fence the main birdsong is blackbirds, thrushes etc. Inside the first thing we heard was a tui, which is not a bird we’ve heard much in Christchurch. There are more magnificent trees in here, like the huge and extremely graceful white pine. As usual in this country there are well presented, informative boards telling you all about them.
It was a farsighted action on the part of Riccarton’s nineteenth century owners to set this piece of bush aside from agricultural development. It is an unusual and valuable part of the heritage of the Garden City and enhances it. it is also a perfect place for quiet contemplation.