Saturday, November 24, 2012

New Zealand 2012 - Part 5: Exploring Christchurch

Part 2:  Asiana Airlines Business Class – Seoul to Sydney
Part 3:  Air New Zealand Economy Class – Sydney to Auckland to Christchurch
Part 4:  Winetasting in Waipara
Part 5:  Exploring Christchurch
Part 6:  Air New Zealand EconomyClass – Christchurch to Queenstown
Part 7:  Winetasting in Otago
Part 8:  Exploring Queenstown
Part 9:  Hilton Queenstown
Part 10:  Overnight in Sydney
Part 11:  Singapore AirlinesFirst Class – Sydney to Singapore
Part 12:  Singapore Airlines First Class – Singapore to San Francisco


My time in Christchurch brought some incredible views of nature and architecture as well as plenty of sadness with the aftereffects of the February earthquake still being addressed throughout the City.  In researching a hotel for my stay, I could only find motels available.  All of the larger chain hotels were located in the central business district most damaged by the earthquake. 

I stayed at the Amross Court Motor Lodge – not my typical place to stay but the best I saw available.  There were maybe 16 rooms at this motel, each with a small kitchen area.  The room was very large compared to European or even most American standards.  I was on the side facing the street on the second level and could easily hear traffic even with the windows closed.  Free wifi was included and they gave me a bottle of milk when I checked in.  The hotel did have a cat named Cody.


I only had one full day in Christchurch including the wine tour I lined up so the morning after I arrived I walked through the city.  The first need of the day was breakfast and I found a nice little café and florist, Pepperberry, on the way were I was able to get a full breakfast which included “refried” potatoes.  The potatoes were not that good but the rest of the meal was great fuel for the day.


Walking south into the city there was building after building that was condemned, awaiting repair, or already torn down.  So many vacant lots were scattered along the streets I walked.  Some historic buildings suffered most and will require significant investment to repair, including the Christchurch Cathedral.  A large central portion of the city with many of the high rises, squares, and the Cathedral is off limits to people still due to all the work on going.  One person mentioned it may take 20 years for the city to return to where it was.


Some work has been done to start improving the environment including urban gap filler.  One vacant lot was turned into an outdoor dance floor with a proper floor platform and a washing machine sound station to plug in your MP3 player.  $2 gets you 30 minutes of amplified music.  A great idea to fill the space and replace lost indoor studios. 


A retail area called ReStart has also been built.  The stores and all of the necessary storage and mechanical systems were built out of metal shipping containers.  The spaces work extremely well for retail providing great storefront displays. 


The Avon River flows through the city center and there is a walking path following the river and into the large city park – Hagely Park.  A section of this park is home to the Botanical Gardens which showcase English planting sensibilities and native New Zealand plants.  The City Museum is also on the grounds by I didn’t have the opportunity to go inside.  The Botanical Gardens were great.  My walk through the area was extremely relaxing and rejuvenating as you could only here the nature and wind rustling through the trees and bushes.  After heading through the Gardens and park I returned to my hotel in time for the wine tour pick up.  


After I returned to my hotel from the wine tour, I headed to a pizzeria I saw a few blocks down called, Spagalimis.  The interior was nice and the menu seemed decent.  I ordered a Speight’s GMA and a cheese pizza.  My pizza arrived well before my beer did and the pizza didn’t taste much better than a frozen dinner.  The beer was passable, but on the lighter side for my tastes. 


The next morning I went down the street to Strawberry Fare for breakfast.  I had their French toast which was delicious.  Imagine bread that tasted like a cinnamon and sugar donut being used as the base and then a very light syrup on top.  It was surprisingly light and airy and didn’t weigh me down later.  The bacon and bananas were good too.  When breakfast was finished I had to head back to my hotel and pack. 


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