Arriving in the Southern Island of Middle Earth: Christchurch, New Zealand

There are so many awesome places in New Zealand but I feel Christchurch, though not one of the top 2 cities in NZ, may be the best place to hit first on a trip over (Dunedin is not far behind!).

The arrival

I arrived in Christchurch on the eastern coast of the southern island of New Zealand (where Lord of the Rings was filmed; the lands in the movie were called “Middle Earth” for those who may not be familiar with the movie!).  From the plane we flew over the southern Alps, as they are unofficially called.   In this picture, we pass over the highest peaks and you can even see a glacier coming down.  This is the view you want to see ahead of coming to NZ!

Southern Alps, New Zealand, Christchurch, glacier, nature

Glacier flowing to lower right corner of pic as I fly over the Southern Alps in New Zealand

It was around 230 PM and we were delayed getting off the plane because a passenger had flu-like symptoms.  Nice.  The health person from the airport had to board the plane and do some kind of test on the passenger before any of us could get off.  I could not see exactly what he was doing but after a few minutes of whatever, we were allowed to get off the plane.  The airport claims to be the “top carbon neutral airport company in the southern hemisphere” which I found amusing for a couple of reasons, one of which is the recurrent theme in Australia and NZ of claims about a place being the “—-est” (tallest, biggest, cleanest, etc.) in the “southern hemisphere”.  Considering how little of the world is in the southern hemisphere, these claims almost seem too easy :)  but, heck, someone’s got to make the claim!

Besides being carbon neutral, the airport is nice and small and it was very easy to just go to the bus stop and catch bus 29 intown.  It dropped me off very close to my bed and breakfast but apparently I signaled “stop” one street too early so I walked an extra block.  No worries, extra exercise.  The streets were very pleasant and had the air of a place where people knew each other, where people felt safe, and where the pace was not too fast and not too slow – a great place to get to know NZ and, especially, the south island.

A great place to stay in Christchurch

The Orari Bed and Breakfast was in an old house and was very nice.  At 6 PM they cracked open some wine for the guests so I knew I had ample time to walk around before sunset (around 430 PM) and be back to shower, unpack and get some wine.  The room was frigid when I got there though they had turned on the standing heating unit probably just before I arrived.  I thought I would freeze that night but the standing units (there was another one) and the heating blanket worked really well.  In fact, all too well, I was burning up in the middle of the night and had to turn off the heating blanket!  It was the first time I had used one…  I was very glad with my choice of place to stay due to a great location next to an art museum but otherwise not in the middle of things, yet a short walk away from places to eat, the city center, etc.  Oh, and the staff is great!  It definitely made me feel Christchurch and NZ was putting its best foot forward to welcome me.

The Garden City

The town of Christchurch is called the Garden City and I would agree with that although it was the beginning of winter.  The “suburbs” were very nice but also the areas closer to the city center.  The city center itself was manageable and with some key sights to check out.

Christchurch, New Zealand, cathedral, earthquake, southern island, architecture, Canon EOS Rebel

The ill-fated cathedral, fatally damaged in the earthquake and now being rebuilt in Christchurch

Christchurch cathedral New Zealand earthquake southern island

Interior of the cathedral of Christchurch before it was destroyed

Christchurch square plaza chess New Zealand

A friendly game of chess in Christchurch’s main square

architecture center of Christchurch New Zealand, Canon EOS Rebel

Beautiful architecture in the center of Christchurch

New Regent street in Christchurch before earthquake New Zealand Canon EOS Rebel

New Regent St. in Christchurch – seriously damaged during the earthquake

I strolled down Oxford Terrace by the small river that cuts through the town as there were a lot of restaurants/cafes/pubs along the street and I wanted to scope out where I would have dinner later that night.  I settled for a place called Sticky Fingers where I later got to enjoy a very nice Sauvignon Blanc wine from Marlborough called Cloudy Bay.  The place has a nice smart and modern ambiance.  The seating areas was very comfy and next to but separate enough from the bar area.  The food was good but I would not say stellar.  Other restaurants in the strip that caught my attention were Ferment and Liquidity.

My visit in Christchurch was short and I am going back at the end of my tour of the southern island so I should get to sample another restaurant and sip on the wine at Orari.  The tempo of the city and its charm served as a great welcome mat for this first time visitor to the magical place that is New Zealand.

(Pictures taken with Canon EOS Rebel)

Comments

  1. Nice!

  2. You had me at Cloudy Bay! So so so good!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Discovering Newport, Rhode IslandMy Profile

  3. Looks so cute there! I would LOVE to get to New Zealand! I’ll work my way over to that part of the world eventually! Love the gigantic chess game!
    lola dimarco recently posted..One Day Stay: New York, New YorkMy Profile

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