A day in Christchurch New Zealand
The best way to see Christchurch city thoroughly is to get aboard the hop-on hop-off vintage tram, operated by Christchurch Tramways. The whole circuit takes around an hour if you stay on, and the conductor imparts his excellent information to passengers along the whole route. The trams have a thirty-minute frequency, so it gives plenty of time at each stop to look around before getting back on. You can set your own itinerary this way, at your own pace.
Established in 1856, Christchurch is New Zealand's second largest city with over 390,000 residents. The official Māori name for the city is Otautahi. Its city centre is home to trendy cafes, restaurants and bars. It is renown as the Garden City with the Avon River/ Ōtākaro flowing through the centre and delightful gardens along both riverbanks.
Every city should have a market like the Riverside Market - Te Ara Markete. This indoor farmer market is open seven days a week and sells local produce, seafood, pastries, meats, and coffee among other delicacies. The nearby Riverside Lanes hosts dining options and boutique clothing and gift shops. It would be a delight to spend most of the day here tasting their delights and relaxing. The market actually started as a container market after the devastating 2011 earthquake that hit Christchurch. This temporary set up lasted five years and is now this permanent vibrant market.
The Peacock fountain in the Botanical Gardens has herons, dolphins and lily leaves among the decorative cast-iron ornamentation. Where are the peacocks? Well, the politician and businessman John Thomas Peacock donated the money for the purchase of the fountain, and it was named after him. The kit-set fountain was ordered from an English Catalogue.
The Botanical Gardens has been displaying flower beds since the 19th century. They mass the flowers together for impact, with the favourites being tulips, begonias and polyanthus.
A statue of William Sefton Moorehouse sits in the gardens with the words "to whose energy and perseverance Canterbury owes the tunnel between the port and the plains".
The Curators House Garden was a definite favourite place to wander through. It is a small but productive garden, hosting vegetables, fruits and herbs. It is a wonderful example of what can be grown in a limited space, and how to grow it in this potager garden.
Produce grown in the garden today is used by the chefs at the house that is now a restaurant. Walking along the paths, you see they have used every available space, including growing fruit on overhead trellises.
The house was built in 1920 and sits beside the Avon River. It would look equally at home in an English village. Indoor and outdoor dining give visitors a glorious view of both the river and garden when eating here, as well as the fragrance of the flowers. I gained a lot of ideas to use in my own garden from the examples in this one.
Many recreational activities take part on the Avon River, including punting. Plant and animal life can be observed as you gently glide along the waterway. Observe the tree lined pathways that meander beside the river and pass under bridges that are full of character. The beauty is in the greenery that has been preserved in the middle of this busy city, retaining a country vibe even as it ever expands.
Outside the city council offices Te Pou Herenga Waka meaning "a stake that brings people together. Carved wooden posts are called Pouwhenua or pou whenua and are used by the Māori to mark territorial boundaries as well as significant places. This statue is beautifully carved and tells the story of the connection between the people and the land.
Christchurch is also getting a well-deserved reputation as a city of murals and street art. In fact, it has more street art than any other city in the Southern Hemisphere.
Between September 2010 and January 2012, a series of earthquakes shook the city. Over 1,500 city buildings have been demolished. Rebuilding and restoration is still continuing over ten years later. The Christchurch Cathedral sits in the city centre and was built between 1864 and 1904. in 2023 the stabilisation and restoration of the Cathedral was still ongoing. The best spot to see the ongoing works is to head up to the fourth floor of the nearby public library and get a bird's eye view.
The Christchurch Arts Centre - Te Matakiki Toi Ora is where art, culture, education, food, shopping, comedy and accommodation can all be found under one roof. Originally built in 1877, this building has also been renovated after the earthquakes.
Buildings that have been constructed since the earthquake include the new art gallery.
I loved the neon sign on the side of the art gallery - "Everything is going to be alright". A fabulous message to the city, its residents and visitors.
Other newly constructed buildings, such as the Convention Centre, have a modern beauty all of their own.
The Bridge of Remembrance is a memorial to those who have lost their lives in wars, one of two memorials in the city. Originally unveiled in 1924, the archway is built over the Cashel Street Bridge, over the Avon River. The main pedestrian mall in the city is just across the road.
I don't need a bridge to know that Christchurch is one amazing city that I will always remember and return to.
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