Today we explored Christchurch. We got a day pass to ride the 1900’s vintage sight-seeing trams that run through the Central Business District making 18 stops on their figure-eight route. Each driver offered up a running commentary about local sites often with some humor added.
Our first stop was Victoria Square.
New Regent Street is a pedestrian block with colourful store fronts. It is the only mirror street in New Zealand. Each building has a mirror twin across the street. It reminded us a bit of the facades in Disneyland.
The Christchurch Cathedral was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake and is still undergoing restoration. It is expected to re-open in 2027. Sadly, there are still a lot of damaged buildings not yet repaired. One crazy example is a hotel that only just had their insurance settlement pay out – 12 years after the earthquake!
Due to earthquake activity, no building in Christchurch is allowed to be taller than 28 meters.
Christchurch is full of murals.
The Kaitaki, a guardian, is a symbol of protection for the city, holding both a kingfisher and an owl. Two elements of Māori culture, ornithology and mythology, highlight a protection theme for an earthquake-torn city in the process of rebuilding.
The Riverside 3D mural celebrates Christchurch’s history and includes historic businesses.
The Riverside Market is similar to our Granville Island; lots of little shops selling donuts, cheese, candy, olive oil, honey, chocolate, beer, wine.
Lunch was at a gastropub on the second floor with a great view of the Avon River. Kris got some amazing local brews. So far, we’ve found portions to be realistically sized and food is really good. Eating out has been very expensive, but tipping is not an expectation. Staff are paid a living wage.
Christchurch owns their own small piece of the Berlin Wall. When the wall was dismantled, pieces were shipped to various other parts of the world to be displayed.
We had a very nice tapas dinner just down the block. Tomorrow we head north of Christchurch into one of the wine regions.