Christchurch was the first big city stop on the South Island (and the third largest city in NZ). Christchurch is still recovering from several earthquakes between September 2010 and early 2012. The largest quake was 22 February 2011. After the quakes, the city slogan changed to “Our City Rocks!” By late 2013, 1,500 buildings had been demolished in the city.
We rented a wonderful home next to Hagley Park which abuts the Botanical Gardens. Compared to the previous three weeks of moving every 2-3 days, it was nice to stay put for several days. We enjoyed a bit of a slower pace and explored Christchurch a bit every day.
We would typically schedule a winery stop on our drive days. We chose Pegasus Bay winery on our drive to Christchurch since it made several award winning wines and offered a lunch. There were so many great wineries that we couldn’t stop at each one. For some reason, our kids just don’t find wineries stops as “fun”. I simply can’t remember all the wineries we visited, but I was constantly impressed with the wines produced by New Zealand. I am no longer a Napa Valley Cabernet wine snob- there are simply too many wonderful wines produced worldwide!
We were able to stroll through Hagley Park towards the Central Business District on our explorations. An interesting fact, Hagley Park is the third largest city park in the world (think NY Central Park and London’s Hyde Park). We were able to see the various stages of rebuilding in the CBD. The impact of the earthquakes was slightly lost on E&S since they didn’t know the city before; but I remember Christchurch from our first visit in 1997. Some buildings have been completely repaired and are functioning again while some are in the same state as left by the earthquake. Others are still covered in scaffolding with much work still needed. The Christchurch Cathedral was still hidden in scaffolding from quake damage (22 February 2011) that caused the spire to collapse. The Cathedral sits in the middle of the CBD of the town and the area is slowly returning to life. Christchurch has done a wonderful job of embracing a new city spirit with the rebuilding. Instead of building the city as it was, it is moving forward with a renewed funky edge. An example- Re:START which is a shopping area in colorful shipping containers. We did find an escape room while exploring CBD. It had been several weeks since our last room and we needed a victory again! The Escape Room (Crate Escape) was actually a shipping container located next to a wonderful city park. Luckily we had another success! One of our last outings was to the NZ Air Force Museum.
We enjoyed some family time and a bit of downtime while in Christchurch. Stephen and I enjoyed some runs. I found a yoga class. E made a couple batches of chocolate chips cookies. We admit we neglected the foodie scene in Christchurch; our rental house offered such a wonderful kitchen and living room that we opted to cooked meals and stay home for the evenings.
One of the highlights of Christchurch was meeting up with Chantell and her family. Chantell was a resident while I taught at Travis and it was wonderful to catch up. Better yet- meeting her beautiful new baby! It is wonderful when we have the chance to share a meal with old friends.
Christchurch is well known as a launching point for Antartic journeys. Instead of Antartica, we headed to Queenstown.