Well, it’s been a week since I actually arrived here in Kiwi-land so I probably should post something about it.
As could be seen in the flight plan I started my journey in Christchurch. The flight from Singapore itself was pretty much ok. I talked a bit with the couple sitting next to me in the plane, read, watched a movie, and tried to sleep. Unfortunately, that last part remained mostly at tried.
Actually getting into the country wasn’t hard, although it was the first time I’d seen such extensive checks of whether or not there was any kind of biological material on or in my stuff. My bag went through an x-ray machine, and even the bottom of my shoes was checked to ensure I didn’t accidentally bring in any strange grass, or mud, or whatever. Well, if that’s what’s needed to keep the country the way it should be, that’s fine with me.
Now, for the first two nights I’d booked a hotel so once I was admitted to the country I made my way to the bus that would take me there, and after checking in and stuff at the hotel it was somewhere between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. Barely having slept for a couple of days the bed was really tempting so I lay down on it for a short powernap. I woke up at 11 in the evening, realized the time and decided therefore to keep on sleeping. All in all, when I woke up the next morning this meant I had completely switched to the new time zone (which was an 11 hour difference with Amsterdam at that time, changing to 12 when the winter time started).
So, this next day I could really start exploring the city. And that’s when I actually saw the results of the earthquakes that hit Christchurch over the past year. Most of the city center was inaccesible, and pretty much every tall building had visibly fallen apart or had big signs warning everyone to keep out. This damage could be seen throughout most of the city.
Later on I would learn more details about how this is all going to be fixed. There is a new plan for the city center now which will mean that no buildings will be allowed of more than six stories. Not that there were that many of them right now, but all of those will be removed and the whole center will be made a lot greener. I browsed through these plans when I was talking to some people at the Occupy Christchurch site, and I have to say it does look pretty good. Of course, while a lot of construction work is already going on right now it will still take years before all of this is realized.
While I was there though, one of the shopping streets was reopened. Now, I don’t know what it looked like before, but I doubt all of these shops were in containers at that time. Still, it’s a good thing progress is being made. Now it’s just hoping that there won’t be another big quake to undo all of this hard work. Interesting facts, the Southern Alps (the mountain range on the South Island) have about 14.000 earthquakes a year and since the September quake in 2010 Christchurch has had about 4000.
Enough about that though. Let’s look to what was possible in Christchurch. As the weather was great, I walked around in a t-shirt every day, it was possible to do a lot of things outside. There is a beautiful park to relax in, and a lot of other things to see, but I didn’t do much that first day. Mostly just enjoying the sunshine while walking around the city. The next day I had to leave the hotel, and so I went to jail.
Jailhouse Accommodations is a hostel built inside an old jail. They actually follow the theme quite nicely, with things like the employees being called wardens and terms like breaking out for a checking out. It’s a fun place to stay, and I had fun there. The first night I joined some people for some drinks in the hostel before we went out to an Irish pub. As that closed before we wanted it to we then continued to the next place, where two Indian guys decided to order the hottest thing the chef could make. I tried it, but decided that one small bite was more than enough to understand it was too hot for me to handle.
After that I had another quiet day, but on my last day in Christchurch I decided to rent a bike at the hostel so I could explore the hills a bit more. This is really nice, and I can recommend it to anyone. Although I would recommend even more that when you do this you rent a bike that has gears. It’s not much fun to go up those steep slopes in the heat. And without gears I simply couldn’t make it so I had to walk some parts. It did have some great views of the city though.
I went to the Sign of Takahe, which was closed due to earthquake damage, and followed the road to Victoria Park where I parked my bike again and went for a walk. After this though I’d had enough of Christchurch for the moment so once back at the hostel I booked a shuttle ride to Akaroa, but that’s for another post.
All in all though, I had a good time in Christchurch.