Christchurch, New Zealand

June 5 - 7, 2001

 Our Travel Experience

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Tourist Info


Our Travel Experience

Christchurch was our gateway into and out of the South Island since we were able to find seats for NZ$89 per person one way. Qantas New Zealand had recently went out of business, so Qantas Australia was offering these drastically reduced fares. We'd flown through Christchurch twice previously, but never left the airport. This time, Tara was determined to have a look at New Zealand's "most European city".
On our first walk into the city center, it was nighttime and we were looking for dinner. We happened upon a park with a river running through it. The area looked very familiar and we were both reminded of Stratford Upon Avon in England. Funny thing was that someone hundreds of years ago must have also been reminded of Stratford since the river has been named the Avon!

The next day we headed out straight away after breakfast to explore the city's sights. We didn't get far before ducking into the library for a couple of hours and devouring magazine article after magazine article. All through our world tour, we have enjoyed reading magazines at local libraries. Even though English was not the main language, the libraries would have a few major magazines in English. Imagine our delight at the Christchurch library, where 99% of the magazines were in English. If the weather hadn't been sunny, we might have spent the whole day in the library. However, Tara got antsy and wanted to head outside into the sun. 

From the library we headed to the main town square. We had a peek at the Cathedral, but decided not to climb the 130 or so steps up the bell tower. The Cathedral was unique because it had a timber roof. We later learned on the city tram tour that the roof was timbered only after an earthquake had knocked down three previous roofs. 

We then headed to the Arts Center. The Arts Center was unique because it was housed in what used to be the buildings of Canterbury University. We could really tell that we were walking through old classrooms as we went from shop to shop. Seth did not find the Kauri Tree bowl that he has been looking for, but we did meet a very friendly white and orange cat in the woodworkers shop. Mork was sleeping under a table and there was a sheet near him explaining what he did day in and day out. Basically, he'd sleep during the day, waiting for various customers to come by and pet him. Then at night, he would prowl through all the Art Center shops. Rough life for a cat!
After the Arts Center, we headed into the botanical gardens. We're very glad that Tara didn't finish all of her burrito for lunch because the ducks liked burrito! The botanical gardens were very pretty. We walked along a river with ducks following us. We found a rose garden and indoor green house with flowering plants and a large cactus garden. We then ended up in the bonsai garden until a gardener came to close the place up at 4 o'clock. 

As we were leaving the gardens, we walked by a hurt duck. We'd seen him earlier amongst all of the ducks. However, now that he was alone, we were able to feed him all of our remaining burrito. He liked it! 

Instead of walking home, we decided to hop onto the historic tram tour. The Bed and Breakfast where we were staying had given us two free tram tickets. It was well worth our time. At points on the tour, we were the only ones on board and we talked with the driver more than we received a tour, but even so, we learned a little about the city and the tram we rode in was gorgeously restored. The amount of natural wood used in its construction made it very stunning. Instead of getting dropped off near home, Tara decided that we should get off at the point on the tram route farthest from home because she thought the one walking street lined with pastel houses was particularly cute.

On our way home, we walked by a Japanese restaurant. It doesn't take much to encourage us to eat Japanese, so we headed inside. It was yummy - but not as good as our favorite places back in Tokyo. The owner, Mr. Kyoto, had written up a cute sheet talking about why he'd opened a restaurant and his memories of different types of food from his childhood. We enjoyed the typical Japanese ambiance, but didn't take off our shoes, grab a book and camp out. Instead we popped around the corner to the internet cafe and then headed home.

However, before reaching our Bed and Breakfast, we popped into the library for a few more hours of magazine reading!

After a quick cooked breakfast (with baked beans for Tara) and a hasty shower (for Seth), we hopped in the shuttle bus for the ride to the train station. We were headed cross country to Greymouth on the TranzScenic railway line.

Category Rating Comments
Overall Experience 7 A very small, cute, compact city center where we enjoyed spending a day. 
Ease of Journey 7 We flew into Christchurch from Auckland and then took the train to Greymouth. The train station is not near downtown. Our shuttle bus took approximately ten minutes to reach the station. 
Accommodation Windsor B&B was a good random pick out of the Lonely Planet book. Lonely Planet said it was extremely clean, neat and tidy. We also found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. 
Activities 6 We enjoyed reading in the library the most. 
Coolness 6  We didn't find anything particularly cool about Christchurch except for maybe the fact that many Antarctic expeditions leave from Christchurch airport. 
Tourist Info

Windsor B&B - NZ$98 for two people including cooked breakfast. Seth found a 10% off coupon, so we paid NZ$89.20 a night.