After my one night in Lake Tekapo, we set off early the following morning for the 3 hour drive to Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula. The plan had been for us to head straight to Akaroa, a village on the Banks Peninsula with a strong French influence. However, staying with a Christchurch local in Wanaka and hearing her stories about the city inspired me to stop off along the way at Christchurch to spend a few hours there exploring as it undergoes post earthquake recovery.
Although much of the city still needs to be rebuilt, there are pockets of ingenuity and creativity peppered around town. I couldn’t help but feel uplifted by the energy of its inhabitants, evident as I walked around the city, or feel inspired by the buildings, structures and art work created to beautify, motivate and rouse the city.
Highlights of Christchurch in 3 hours
Re:START Container Mall
Constructed out of old, stacked containers, this mall area is filled with retailers, food outlets and sitting areas. It was a very cool place to hang out and walk around in.
The Cardboard Cathedral was built as a temporary stand-in for the partially collapsed Anglican church. Built by Japanese “emergency architecture” guru, Shigeru Ban, the Cardboard Cathedral is awe-inspiring in just how solid and stable it looks for a structure built from reinforced cardboard tubes.
New Regent Street
Recently restored, the New Regent Street lives up to its former glory once again, featuring bright, pastel coloured buildings with a spanish facade.
185 Empty White Chairs Memorial
An installation by Peter Majendie, Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood serves as a memorial to the 185 lives lost in the Christchurch earthquake, replacing a church which once stood here.
Whiling away a summer afternoon in Akaroa
Akaroa was my last major stop in New Zealand before I was due to leave my 5.5 week trip around the country behind and return to Australia. As I was spending my time here with a few friends, the plan was not to rush around manically for one more day trying to cram in the sights. What we did instead were leisurely walks by the harbour followed by beer and desserts in a pub overlooking the water, after which we enjoyed a nice home cooked dinner with wine back at our accommodation – in short, a perfect way to say goodbye to New Zealand.