Christchurch: being a tour guide

My sister has now left Christchurch, and probably by this stage she will be halfway across to Singapore by now. I have had a wonderful time with her here and have enjoyed being a tour guide during her stay.

In the past and even up until quite recently still, when I mention to people that I live in Christchurch, they are often surprised that 1. I would move from the UK to Christchurch with no connection at all to a rebuild trade and 2. that I have managed to live here. However, I love Christchurch and I try my best to respond with a positive note about what is going on here.

Quite recently, the Lonely Planet wrote an article on Christchurch and named it as one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2013
which I think is fantastic. Although the central city is pretty ‘munted’ (ruined), there are lots of really cool things going on and places to visit.

For my sisters first evening in Christchurch, we headed on the bus into town. I still haven’t got a car, nor do I think I need one. The transport system here is pretty efficient. I can get a bus to and from the centre every 15 minutes up until 6.30pm, and I used my metro card for this
By the time we had got into town, it was getting a little dark, so we headed just to one container bar: the Town Ball, which is one of the newer container bars. It was built on a vacant site and used the ball from the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which I think is pretty awesome, seeing as Christchurch missed out on hosting any games due to the earthquake.

The Town Ball: Christchurch

It was amazing inside, but very difficult to get pictures of it, due to its shape. Because of the ball surrounding it, it had amazing acoustics. It was quite a quiet wee place. However, it was January 3rd and a Thursday night, so people were possibly still recovering from New Years Eve, or just back at work. We had a few drinks and went on home.

The next day, we decided to spend the day in and around Christchurch giving my sister, what I call ‘the earthquake tour’ I don’t mean to sound insensitive by calling it this, and I am aware that it may be offensive to some, due to the devastation it caused.
Taking my sister around different areas of the city was a little easier than with my dad. For my dad, who had been here 10 days before the quake, he had an idea of what it was like and had even been in many of the buildings either gone or damaged. However, with my sister – she had never been to New Zealand.

When I arrived, many parts of Christchurch were like a ghost town, with a huge cordon (fencing) around most of it, but I have watched it slowly change in the past year, and it has been an exciting time.

One of the first buildings I often show people is the Catholic Basilica, which I believe suffered no damage in the 2010 earthquake, but devastation damage in 2011. It is a beautiful building, and having seen before pictures of in and outside, it is a real shame to see it looking so sad.

Before

 

After

We took a short drive around some of the sights in town, and then headed out to New Brighton, via Dallington which is in the Eastern Suburbs, which was badly damaged by the quake.
Although I don’t think driving up and down streets and in through neighbourhoods which are wrecked should be a tourist attraction, I think it is important to see what an earthquake does to our physical environment, as well as what it did to the people in it. We did stop and take photos of some badly damaged houses, which possibly is a bit disrespectful (sorry ChCh!)

New Brighton Pier

 

A footbridge on River Road, Dallington (this has since been removed)

 

 

My sister and I at New Brighton beach

After New Brighton, we drove over to Sumner, which suffered equal amounts of damage too, but has a really cool vibe with a number of gap fillers around town.

A free community Piano

Making use of the fence space with creativity

For the reminder of the time my sister has been in Christchurch, we visited a number of different places in town. I have been at work for the past few days, but my sister has been able to potter about an visit a few different op shops, as well as just rest before her flight.

One thing we managed to fit in on Sunday was a red zone bus tour which was great as it did take us into areas beyond the Cordon that you cannot get to on foot. Prior to the tour starting, they make a safety announcement, and say that if there is another earthquake or aftershock, some buildings “could fall down, and you might not survive” nice to know. You are then given the opportunity to get off the bus if you want to, no one did, and we did survive.

The tour itself only cost $15, and lasted about 45 minutes. It was quite difficult to get photos properly from the bus, but the commentary and info given out by the tour guide was good. I would definitely recommend this in Christchurch.

On Sunday before Church, my sister and I spent some time walking through the Botanic gardens, which is totally stunning whatever the weather happens to be.

 

We also had a wander through the Re:start Mall, which I totally love. There apparently is a small one similar in London, called ‘pop-up city’. From what I gather, Christchurch was going to call it ‘pop up city’ too, but this was contested by the designers of the London outfit. I personally like the name re:start much better.

 

 For my sister’s last night we got a little bit dressed up and went out into town, via the Pallet Pavilion, which is another Gap Filler I have yet to write about.

 

Then onto a couple of container bars: Revival (on Victoria Street), and Cargo Bar in Addington. We attempted to go to the Pedal Pusher, but it had closed by 11pm when we got there.

 

 (Revival – Chairs made out of shopping trolleys)
 Cargo Bar: The famous Jam Jar Cocktails

Yesterday afternoon, I dashed out of work and biked down into town where I met Sharron at the Boatsheds. I had a by one get one free voucher so we decided to have a go at punting. The weather was gorgeous and warm (29 degrees). The punting ride itself took approximately 45 minutes. I’ve been punting before a few times in Cambridge, England, but this was a lot nicer and such a relaxing end to my sisters trip.

 

After our punting trip we had a walk down Worcester Boulevard to the Coffee House on Montreal Street, which is a lovely wee coffee shop/café. We had dinner there on Sunday and so decided to stop off for a bit of coffee and cake prior to going to the Thai Container for dinner and then onto the airport. The Thai Container which is one of many mobile eateries in Christchurch and is really yummy, and probably healthier.

So that ends the big Christmas adventure with the family. I had such an amazing time, and in particular, I enjoyed showing my sister Christchurch and a little bit of my life.
This year I hope to spend more time in Christchurch doing more local things within the community.

Last year I tended to have a wander around the CBD each month to see the changes. I often took photos, but not much else. I’d love to be able to do a monthly update on Christchurch and how much it is changing.

Christchurch is a transitional city but an amazing one, please come visit!

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