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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

A day in Christchurch New Zealand

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

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.

painted in dark red and yellow, this heritage tram from the 1930s takes visitors on a city tour, a hop on, hop off experience. it is number 244 tram and waits on the brick paved mall in christchurch central

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.

fresh baked cheese and chilli scrolls, the sign states they cost six dollars each. they glisten with mouth watering browns and bits of chilli sprinkled on them before baking

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.

a cast iron fountain in the middle of a large pond, set in the botanical gardens, large evergreen trees in the background. the fountain is three layers. dolphins grace the four sides on the bottom layer, herons in the middle and lily leaves on the top. water spouts upwards at various places in the pond

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".

a statue of a man seated on a chair sits on a plinth above gorgeous flower beds of yellows, pinks, purples, whites, and reds. all these are in the middle of expansive green manicured lawns. threes surround the perimeter

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.

pumpkins are growing on a metal trellis. large leaves, new flowers and tendrils are all among the fruit of this planting. it saves space in a small garden to grow on the trellis

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.

green pears are growing on a trellis that covers a brick walkway through a cottage garden. the pears hang down in bunches among the green leaves. a great way to grow vegetables and fruit in a small garden

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.

a two storey house set in the botanical gardens seems out of place, it would look more at home in an English village. Built in the tudor style, it has river rock walls on the bottom and render on the top. painted in greys and white, it is now a restaurant and umbrellas outside shade patrons as they eat their meals.

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.

among the tall green trees the Avon River flows through christchurch. more a stream than a river, there is a punt and kayakers using it. The punter stands with his stick and manouvers the paying guests along at a leisurely pace. a concrete walkway runs alongside the river, green grass edging between it and the water

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.

a beautifully and extensively carved wooden post sits outside the multi storey glass fronted building. this is a maori post that symbolises connection between people and earth. It has symbolic figures carved into it.

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.

a mural decorates the second storey of a building. a Māori woman figure with tribal tattoos on her chin. orange painted around her eyes and feathers in her hair. she holds a bird in each outstretched hand and a shawl made of feathers around her shoulders and upper torso. around her neck is a necklace with a Māori pendant that symbolizes infinity.

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.

construction work and scaffolding can be seen around the barriered building of the Christchurch Cathedral. Workers are repairing the damage done by the 2011 earthquake. the roof is grey tile with geometric triangles and lines in darker grey, Maori designs.

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.

a striking building. the christchurch art centre is a two storey gothic design. complete with severl spires, the architecture is large brown brick with white trims. circular windows sit above arched windows, it looks like an old church. umbrellas and seating outside allow the cafe diners to enjoy the sun

Buildings that have been constructed since the earthquake include the new art gallery.

curved glass panels make up the multi storey new art gallery. horizontal metal beams hold them together

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.

set on the side of a grey wall of the art gallery, up high on the second level are the neon letters of a sign to the city - Everything is going to be alright

Other newly constructed buildings, such as the Convention Centre, have a modern beauty all of their own.

hard to describe building. the exterior is made up of different blacks, whites, and grey chevrons, in no particular pattern. The glass windows on the bottom and first floors are not square, they are geometric elongated and angles shapes. ultra modern

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.

the words "Bridge of Remembrance top this tall structure built in 1924. it is an arch across the walkway, with round globe shaped lamps lecorating it. two smaller arches on either side are still tall enough for people to walk through.

I don't need a bridge to know that Christchurch is one amazing city that I will always remember and return to.

a map of New Zealand showing where Christchurch is located on the South Island

Happy Travels!

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