Our March Christchurch catch-up with Jamie was planned around our campervan relocation and Australian adventures. Whilst in the garden city, we took the opportunity to travel on the Trans-Alpine Scenic train from Christchurch to Greymouth. I’d tell you all about this trip too, but it needs a post of its own to do justice to the photos of Keas. Finally! But that’s yet to come …
Friends and Family Times
As we flew into Christchurch, we noticed the stark difference in the landscape to the North Island. We’d left Gisborne a week after Cyclone Gabrielle which followed Cyclone Hale! The South Island experienced hardly any rain during the summer of 2022/23, unlike the North Island’s regular deluges. Quite a contrast to the ‘normal’ pattern.
Barry and Jamie worked together doing a few house jobs and managed to put up a new veranda over the front door. Meanwhile, I caught up with a couple of midwifery colleagues I’d worked with in Gisborne many years ago. Andrea had visited us on Areandare last September with her husband Sean, and we’d travelled from the Pontyscyllte Aqueduct to Llangollen. She was in Christchurch undertaking a Return To Midwifery Practice course, leaving Sean in Townsville.
We also took the opportunity to meet up with Barry’s nephew Wayne and walked Ewok and his dog (whose name I forget!) through part of the residential Red Zone. It’s quite surreal walking along the roads that still have street names – and you can see the houses that were there on Google Street View! There’s also an abundance of fruit trees remaining from people’s gardens, which are freely available for anyone to pick. We collected apples and peaches, the latter involved a bit of climbing for Jamie … It was interesting to see the ‘Munted Meadway Footbridge’ showing visitors the power of Mother Earth. The new footbridge was only opened in May 2022.
Superb Street Art At Shift
Jamie had spoken about the ‘Shift’ urban art takeover at Christchurch Museum which sounded intriguing. We spent a morning walking around where six international artists were flown in for Canterbury Museum’s blockbuster farewell exhibition. It opened on 28 January and ran until 11 April. Afterwards, the Museum closed for five years for a major building redevelopment. All proceeds went towards the Museum’s redevelopment. More than 60 urban artists transformed 35 spaces across five floors of the almost-empty Museum building, including rooms not previously seen by the public. It was well worth the $25 entry fee – what a unique experience.
I’ve only put a handful of my favourites below – check out Barry’s brilliant slide show at the end of the post for more.
Revisiting Banks’ Peninsula
Jamie suggested a trip to Littleton on Saturday 4th March to see their street market. What a buzzing place it was. Dozens of stallholders and a really friendly family vibe. I found myself a hand mixer I’d been searching for – and a silver egg separator that I didn’t even realise I needed 😉
Afterwards, we drove up to a lookout on the Peninsula, and stumbled across a couple and their guests having wedding photos. Who could blame them – it’s a stunning location. We got one of the onlookers to take a photo of the three of us.
A Rainy Weekend with Deb
My friend of over 21 years, from when I initially arrived in New Zealand in October 2001, had asked if she could come with us to do the Trans-Alpine train trip. She flew up on Saturday 4th March and Deb and I stayed at The Chateau In The Park for two nights. Barry and I had previously heard of this hotel, as it had been one of the many Managed Isolation hotels in Christchurch when we were isolated at The Sudima.
It was a bit of a walk to the city through Hagley Park, which would’ve been pleasant had it not rained almost non-stop on the only full day we had! So much for a drought – we obviously brought the rain with us from the North Island 😉 It didn’t matter much – having a ‘girls’ weekend was great fun.
We took a hop-on-and-off Tram trip around the city and visited the Riverside Market which I’d not previously been to. A spot of shopping may have been accomplished too – I found a gorgeous Desigual t-shirt half-price and snapped it up! I’m a bit of a sucker for the brand and had also scored a colourful dress from an op-shop close to Jamie for $10.
We left Jamie for our booked TransAlpine train adventure on Monday 6th March.
Christchurch Part Two
We arrived back in Christchurch on the evening of Wednesday 8th March, having stayed overnight at Arthur’s Pass Village on the first day, and Greymouth on the second.
Jamie had taken a couple of days off work and we headed up to the Port Hills to give Ewok a walk and see panoramic views of Christchurch’s sprawling buildings. We stopped a short way from Victoria Park at ‘The Sign of The Takahe’ for a coffee and scone. It’s such a delightful building and garden:
“… the Sign of the Takahe inhabits an illustrious historic castle style setting, complete with Swords & Armour, Heraldry and Coats of Arms, awe-inspiring neo-gothic, medieval and Shakespearean stonework architecture and not forgetting the best garden in Christchurch with the horizon-skimming romantic lawns to drink and be merry…“https://signofthetakahe.co.nz
Afterwards, we looked around Christchurch Art Gallery. Barry took a lot more photos than me – take a look at his ‘green screen’ ones of Jamie and me separately. They’re rather cool I think.
That evening there was a beautiful double rainbow outside Jamie’s house in Woolston.
Our Sydney flight on Friday 10th March wasn’t until 4.35 pm. That gave us lots of time to explore another place we hadn’t experienced – Christchurch Botanic Gardens. We even found an ‘Observatory in the garden’ there which fascinated us.
“The workshop is the last remaining building of the historic Magnetic Observatory. Early Antarctic explorers, local and international scientists, including Nobel prize winners, have made many discoveries here.“https://ccc.govt.nz/parks-and-gardens/christchurch-botanic-gardens/attractions/magnetic-observatory/
The New Zealand Icon Garden was small but magnificent, and the roses and begonias in bloom were breathtaking. An abundance of colours, shapes and sizes, with butterflies and bees in abundance.
You can see why it’s known as ‘the garden city‘! The Botanic Garden boasts it has 21 hectares of the top botanic gardens in the world. A splendid way to bring our Christchurch visit to a close before we flew to Australia for a Teutenberg reunion. But that’s in the post after the next post – which could take a while as we’re flying back to the UK tomorrow, Tuesday 23rd May.
Click on the first images below for Barry’s inspirational images of our Christchurch experiences: The first gallery is from the Shift urban art takeover …