Chasing Dreams Pure New Zealand Travel Rambles Travel Tips

Explore Christchurch – The Resilient City

Hello (again), Christchurch!

New Zealand’s second-largest city has given me much food for thought. My initial lack of interest for this “gateway of the South” gave way to curiosity, which eventually evolved into deep respect and admiration.

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Despite our numerous encounters, my time with Christchurch was short. And perhaps “defining moments” are as such; time matters not when all the right conditions happen to collide. My “dates” with Christchurch have given birth to beautiful experiences.

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(Surrounded by blooming daffodils in Christchurch Botanical Gardens) 

So, here’s sharing my “encounters” and some interesting things to do/see that you may like to explore. Read on for more! 🙂

Things to do (& feel)

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(Restoration works in progress at city center)

Restoration
If you do not live in a cave Most of you would know that in February 2011, Christchurch suffered a major earthquake. This natural disaster killed 185 people then. It also damaged pretty much most of the city center and some eastern suburbs. It was one of the nation’s deadliest peacetime disasters (second-worst after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake).

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(A lone ranger looked on at a damaged building that caught my attention as well)

A friend who was showing me around told me that he used to work in the city center. We were surrounded by broken buildings and abandoned shops. He pointed to a distance and lamented on how he saw a building collapsed before his eyes. Unfortunately, a friend of his was in that building. His voice did not betray much, but like the heaviness that hung in the air – I could sense quiet resignation.

“You can dance in the storm. Don’t wait for the rain to be over before because it might take too long. You can do it now. Wherever you are, right now, you can start, right now; this very moment.”
~Israelmore Ayivor

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(An artistic busker catching the attention of this little girl who later made a small donation:)

Well, restoration is in progress. Re:START, a pedestrian shopping mall made from shipping containers, presents innovative fun and leisure. The Kiwis’ creativity and resilience shine through these brightly colored stacked boxes. The occasional buskers line the streets and lift spirits with their unique talents. No matter how broken it may seem, the city center is a must-visit. Don’t miss out on the Re:START mall while you are here. Go on a photowalk around the city center and join in the “restoration”.

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(Innovative container-shops at Re:START)

Rejuvenation
One morning, I stumbled upon the Botanical Gardens, which is next to the Canterbury Museum. They called it “an oasis in the city of Christchurch”. This “oasis” contains 21 hectares of horticultural displays, several conservatories, memorials, garden art and walking tracks.

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(Blooming daffodils with trees that are as old as 120 years!)

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(Map of Christchurch Botanical Gardens)

Looking at the map, I was amazed by the enormity of the place. Time, I did not have much (then) but I was not frazzled. Being in New Zealand has slowed me taught me to take things in stride. Not enough time to explore the entire ground? No worries, I will just enjoy the path that I take.

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chc_20(Interesting installation to engage visitors’ experience)

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(Avon River flowing through the Botanical Gardens)

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(Unwind on a punt boat and sail down the peaceful Avon River)

And I did! The fresh morning breath and abundant green presents a rejuvenation portion. Strolling leisurely in this peaceful garden can surely cheer one’s spirits! Interesting art installations along the way made the walk more enjoyable than ever. Despite my lack of sleep, I felt rejuvenated.

Note: The gardens are open every day of the year at 7am, and admission is free.

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(Spring was approaching)

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Indulgence
Get your culture-fix and indulge in an informative tour at the Canterbury Museum! Housed in a beautiful stone building that was first opened in 1870, this historic museum is world-renowned for its natural and human history collections.

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(Entrance of Canterbury Museum)

This treasure trove of riches includes more than 2.1 million items encompassing Antarctic expeditions, Canterbury settlement, ethnology and natural history! Parents will also be happy to know that there is interactive fun to keep your children entertained. 

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(Discovery – A place for kids to have fun:)

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Pure indulgence in this historic building of knowledge and culture can be dangerous. Time flies without one knowing! I did not have enough time to thoroughly explore the four levels but the Canterbury Museum has provided me with an invaluable experience. 🙂 I’d surely return.

Note: General admission is free; donations are appreciated.

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(There’s even a section on Aurora!)

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Decadence

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(Coffee at Luciano Expresso Bar)

Have I mentioned this before? Most Kiwis are particular about their coffee, which brings about the high standard in most coffee outlets. There is no lack of good coffee and for a caffeine-addict coffee-lover like me, all I can do is to indulge in PURE DECADENCE.

I am perpetually on a coffee-high during my first visit in Christchurch (and other towns/cities)! Not sure where else to go in the city?

Take a break and have a cuppa’.

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(Don’t like coffee? Hot chocolate is yummy too!)

Gratification
Chasing sunsets give me gratification. Bordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean, there are various spots in Christchurch for one to catch a spectacular sunset (plus if weather permits).

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(Sunset at Christchurch)

However, you should do a Google search prior to visiting any of the spots – in case roads are closed. With good fortune, my friend and I managed to find a great site for capturing that huge yellow yolk!

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(Sunrise outside Christchurch airport)

Connection (s)
Situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains that stretch to the Southern Alps, Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island. One can make use of its ideal location (something that I am good at exploiting!) to visit nearby attractive towns such as Akaora and Kaikoura or even travelled through the Canterbury region towards the popular Queenstown! To travel to the West Coast, there are several options and one of the best is definitely taking the transapline route on the KiwiRail!

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(Onboard Air New Zealand’s domestic flight – Children are engaged to give out sweets prior to touchdown; much preferred over the SQ Girls for sure)

There are many ways to enjoy a destination as a visitor. Sometimes, one need not partake in touristic activities to enjoy one’s stay. Simple pleasure can be gained from taking on the role of an observer. Explore, see and feel. Being an observer may bring you invaluable knowledge and greater joy than you can imagine.

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The above information has been complied based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. Check out http://www.christchurch.org.nz/ for more information on Christchurch, New Zealand. 

2 comments on “Explore Christchurch – The Resilient City

  1. Rufus Girard

    I had pretty much the same feeling about Christchurch the first time round, but it grows. I have yet to see it’s equal in NZ.

    • Indeed, Christchurch is most unique. 🙂 Battling storms in Hamilton these days, hope Wellington’s better!

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