Heather Hapeta lives in Aotearoa-New Zealand: real travel, real adventures, real stories, real photos. Recent destinations Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Hong Kong – now NZ destinations due to COVID travel restrictions
Been searching – on some old CDs – of old pics taken and these took my fancy for no particular reason – except for the Peackok Fountain photo which I think is my best one of it! Next time I’m in Christchurch I will try for a better one with no buildings to be seen! 🙂
Looking through some old photos I came across these and like them … very evocative of Te Waipounamu, Aotearoa, so thought I post them along with a link to a blog about the only Lord of the Rings trip I’ve taken (from Christchurch )
Note: although the watermark says 2019 these pics were taken about 2009
PHOTO attribution: CathedralSquare 2402 By Gabriel Flickr Cathedral Square
It’s some eight or nine years ago that Fodor commissioned me to write about my city – back then we locals were using terms such as ‘the city that shakes’ or ‘shaken not stirred’ and ‘Christchurch rocks’. Christchurch still rocks but in a very different way – it’s great.
In August, this year, one travel writer likened a tram ride in Christchurch to an amusement ride through a disaster zone – I totally disagree as do many others: it is the only New Zealand entry in ‘The 50 Friendliest Cities In The World’ (7th) and it’s also the only New Zealand destination to make it into Fodor’s list of the top 52 places to visit in 2020. I suggest you put it on your bucket list.
Christchurch’s inclusion on Fodor’s Go List 2020 ‘seems to stem in large part from its response to the tragedies that have happened there over the past decade’ said one writer.
“South Island’s largest city is back – and better than ever,” the guide declares, adding that it has “wasted no time getting back on its feet after” after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and 2019 terror attack.
“Not only is Christchurch considered the ‘friendliest city in New Zealand’, according to a 2019 poll, but the evolving metropolis rewards visitors with colonial-era British architecture, enormous parks, panoramic gondola rides, relaxing boat tours down the Avon River, and an exploding public art scene that emerged after the earthquakes.” (Stuff)
However, for many, there is still some confusion as to why many buildings have not yet been replaced, and in particular, the Christchurch Cathedral still sits in ruins.
photo taken at the Quake City Museum
pigeons continue to damage the interior
Every local has an opinion about the cathedral – from knock it down to, restore it totally, keep some old parts and build something new attached to it, get rid of any cathedral in the square, and many variations on those themes.
Pre quake photos:
Being Christchurch born, and having lived through hundreds of quakes I too have an opinion – I believed the cathedral should be reinstated – using their insurance money – it, plus the ‘Square’ itself, had played an important role over the previous 100 years. Because of irreparable damage to many of our Gothic buildings, I believed it was important to maintain as much heritage as we could.
The February 2011 earthquake destroyed the Cathedral‘s spire, part of the tower, and the structure of the remaining building. On the day of the quake, much more of the tower was deliberately demolished as it was thought that people were trapped inside – luckily this wasn’t so, and the rest of the tower was demolished in March 2012. When the church started using a wrecking ball on the cathedral, a court injunction was taken out to stop that work – many people believed it should be demolished, piece by piece, numbering the stones so it could be rebuilt.
Later in 2011, after-shocks meant a steel structure – intended to stabilise the rose window – actually destroyed it and the Anglican Church decided to demolish the building and replace it with a new structure. The church did not consult with locals despite years and years of no, or little city rates – a subsidy paid for by locals, who also helped pay for repairs and a new roof. This made many people angry, resulting in court cases and fundraising to help save the cathedral.
Christchurch Diocesan Synod announced that Christ Church Cathedral would be reinstated after promises of extra grants and loans from local and central government.
The church also says the start of restoration will begin in 2020 and “For most people, the reinstated Cathedral will appear unchanged with its important heritage features retained. It will be safer, more functional, more flexible and more comfortable. It will be better equipped for future worship and civic events.”
And, as for the other gaps in the city-scape, many owners of those buildings have chosen not to build for many reasons. Some will be land-banking them, others will be waiting for the convention centre to be finished (late 2020), while others may be waiting to see what’s missing in the city, what’s needed, and then build that. Many people have said, this wouldn’t happen in Hong Kong, or Singapore – true, but New Zealand has a democracy, and surprisingly, everyone who owns those pieces of land, often converted to car parks right now, actually can make up their own mind as to what, and when, to redevelop.
I can tell you that one building site, on Armagh Street (beside New Regent Street) will not be started for a few months. A large flock of our endangered black-billed gulls is nesting among the concrete and reinforcing wire – as they are protected, nothing will happen to this site until they’ve finished nesting, and if they come back in spring next year, the site will remain undeveloped. An eyesore for many, but possibly a lifesaver for these gulls!
I nested at The Classic Villa, which some years ago was transformed from an Italian style historic home to a 5-star boutique hotel in the cultural precinct of our city centre.
My Monday morning walk today was to visit the local Wellington Masjid – three days after the terrible terrorism in Christchurch at the Al Noor Mosjid resulting in fifty deaths – and still, people, all over New Zealand, Kiwi are coming to pay respects, to offer help and leave flowers.
Al Noor, Christchurch
Masjid Al Noor
My Monday morning walk was to visit the local Wellington Masjid – three days after the terrible
terrorism in Christchurch – and still, people are coming to pay respects, to offer help and flowers. As we arrived a local boys’ school was performing a haka.
The Classic Villa has five stars, is eco-friendly and this historic, beautiful, bright pink villa has lived many lives!
Starting in 1897 – just 4 years after all New Zealand women won the right to vote – it was first owned by Christchurch boys high school as the chaplain’s house and, after many incarnations, including an old-folks home (that I always saw myself as being eventually spending my final years in) through to its current reincarnation as a superb Italian style luxury B&B boutique accommodation – where I do stay! Erected on land during Christchurch’s early European settlement days and known as Ravens Paddock, it’s opposite the old Christchurch Boys High School and Canterbury College where Lord Rutherford studied.
With 5 Stars, it’s friendly, laid-back, efficient, and comfortable with the hosts serving sumptuous Mediterranean, /continental or traditional breakfasts. The kitchen island is almost overloaded with cold meats, avocado, tomato, cheeses fruits, cereals, and juices, it’s a magnificent spread, all enjoyed a communal table with Peter, the consummate host, making sure teas and coffees flow -and of course, answering questions about where to go and what to do.
Step outside 17 Worcester Boulevard – a quiet one way pedestrian boulevard – and tram – and you’re in the centre of Christchurch’s cultural precinct including the Art Centre, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu Museum, Botanic Gardens, Cathedral Square, historic tram, punting on the Avon River, Hagley Golf Course, and of course, excellent restaurants, cafes & inner-city shopping: see more on their website The Classic Villa
I’ve always stayed in the ground floor rooms which have traditionally polished timber floors, kauri doors, ornate plaster ceiling roses, wood fire effect heater, luxury bedding, and mirrored wardrobes. The walls have art by Rhonda Campbell – which former President Bill Clinton took a fancy too. Good taste!
Evenings are great with a complimentary glass of something and nibbles in the lounge or garden and barbecue area.
Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city. It’s a vibrant, cosmopolitan place with exciting festivals, theatre, modern art galleries, great shopping and award-winning attractions.
Known internationally for award-winning gardens, Christchurch is also a great place for events, festivals and its street art.
On a recent trip to Christchurch, I again visited the Travis Wetlands. when I was a child we just called it ‘the swamp’ where my maternal grandfather grazed his cows and then sold milk by the billy from the back of a horse and cart!
I’m glad a remnant of that swamp remains – you can get there by public bus. Check out the sights on this slideshow.
Christchurch Otautahi was shaken, not stirred by its quakes and New Zealand’s ‘Garden City’ earned itself a hipper nickname after the earthquake’s devastation and there were T-shirts proclaiming ‘Christchurch – The City That Rocks!’ – I wonder if they are still around?
Christchurch thrives not just on pretty gardens and quake humour, but on sport too. Locals are often described as ‘one-eyed’ by fellow Kiwis, due to the unshakeable belief that the Crusaders rugby team is the best in the land if not the world!
Canterbury considers its lamb the best in New Zealand and so, the world. Make up your own mind about the food on your Christchurch holiday and join local foodies at the many places that showcase local, seasonal food and well as all the ethnic food restaurants in the city.
You could also head over-the-hill to sample fruity wines in the vineyards of the volcanic Banks Peninsula. While there, try the crumbly cheddar, Havarti and Gouda from 19th-century Barry’s Bay Cheese Factory which I’ve frequented since I was a child – many of my ancestors settled on the peninsula in the mid-1800s.
Sweet-toothed people can head to She Chocolat restaurant in Governors Bay where even the main courses are laced with the lovely brown stuff.
Enterprising Māori traded produce with early English settlers in Christchurch and their culture continues to make its mark on the city. Check out vibrant poi and haka performance and feast on a traditional hangi dinner at Ko Tane, a ‘living Maori village’ at Willowbank.
You don’t have to be a super-sleuth to find the old timber home of our local whodunit writer Dame Ngaio Marsh – it’s nestled in the lower Cashmere Hills and is well signposted for those wanting a tour.
I’m in my hometown for the next ten days so follow me on Instagram (kiwitravelwriter) for photos and, of course, more blogs will follow soon.
My first few days I will be staying at the fabulous Classic Villa– opposite the Arts Centre.
The Classic Villa has five stars, is eco-friendly – and this beautiful bright pink villa has lived many lives! it’s also been awarded many awards.
From the home of an early minister of religion through to an old-folks home: its’ current reincarnation is a superb Italian style luxury B&B boutique accommodation. With 5 Stars, it’s also friendly, laid-back, efficient, and comfortable with the hosts serving sumptuous Mediterranean, or traditional breakfasts.
Step outside and you’re in the centre of Christchurch’s cultural precinct including the Arts Centre, Art Gallery, Museum, Botanic Gardens, the Cathedral Square, historic tram, punting on the Avon River, the Hagley Golf Course, and of course, restaurants, cafes & inner-city shopping: see more on their website The Classic Villa
As you can imagine I’m looking forward to staying here again 🙂