Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Christchurch (61) Day 1

I joined Sharon and Annette in Christchurch, New Zealand's garden city, on the 10th May.

Even though we have now traveled pretty extensively around NZ, Wellington is still where we prefer to live and do not regret picking the capital as our home for the year. Having said all that, Wellington city is a modern, and in my opinion ugly city. It's not ugly because it is modern, but by the fact that who ever built the majority of the high rise buildings in the 70's didn't care about the impact the buildings would have on the city itself. I have read a book about the architecture of Wellington and it appears that a couple of Australian companies had the majority of the work and didn't care about anything except their bank balances. So when we arrived in Christchurch we were really struck by it's beauty. In places it would remind you of the likes of Cambridge in England and has, like most of NZ, strong English heritage.

Christchurch was built to a grid pattern like most modern cities but benefits greatly from the river Avon that meanders through it, and therefore it's many ornate bridges. The river and bridges help to break the grid up and make it feel less contrived. Here's a few pics along the river Avon in the heart of the city.

You can even go punting on the river Avon and you can see the mooring post in the pic above. The seasons here are late by one month if not two, so although it's technically winter, it looks like autumn with the foliage on the trees still changing colour. Here's a pic of Sharon and I on one of the many bridges.

Apart from punting on the river Avon you can catch a tourist tram that brings you around the hot spots of the city. It's a short twenty minute trip-not sure what that says about the city- and once you buy the ticket you can get on and off as often as you like for two days. You can even get the restaurant tram should you wish to chew while you view. Here's a pic of the tram. Needless to say the restaurant tram is bigger!

We took the tram down to the Art's Centre to take a look around the shops and studios. It's a great area and while we were there all the columns were temporarily covered in an art installation. Here's a few pics of some of the courtyards.

If you look closely at the "wall paper" you realise that each pattern is made up of people or parts of their body as per the pics below.

There's also some sculptures around the Art's area and the one below is suspended above one of the courtyards.

We ate lunch in Le Cafe while we were there and, as it would turn out, we would also have an evening meal there on our return to Christchurch towards the end of our trip. The food was great and all in all we had some great food experiences in Christchurch. Thanks mainly to some recommendations from B who used to live there.
While Sharon was in one of the wool shops I crossed the road to the Botanic Gardens and took some pics of kids playing in the fallen leaves from an enormous specimen of a tree.

It was getting late by the time Sharon had finished making a few purchases, so we headed back to our hotel via Cathedral Square which is the hub/ meeting place of the city. Here's a pic of the cathedral and it's most famous sculpture built to celebrate the millennium. It depicts, I think, leaves blowing in the breeze.

That evening we ate in a Spanish restaurant called Pedro's, the lamb came highly recommended and who were we to argue. It was fantastic and plenty in the one dish for two, so myself and Sharon shared. Annette had sole which she also really enjoyed. It gets great reviews here and just goes to show that a bit of local knowledge goes along way, thanks B!. After our feed we went to Dux de Lux which is a bar, micro brewery and live venue for a night cap. They even had alcoholic ginger beer on draught, although none of us imbibed.
We awoke the next morning and said goodbye to our creature comforts, it was time to head out to the airport and collect our camper van, our new home for the next two weeks. As it would turn out it was not as long as we had planned but you'll have to wait to see what happened.


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