Returning to the city of my birth, Christchurch, New Zealand, is rather like returning to school as three R’s rule. Not the old reading, writing and ’rithmetic but a new set of R’s dominate my thoughts.
Searching for favourite places I have to ask if it has been reopened, renovated, relocated or reduced-to–rubble. Unfortunately, with something like 80% of the inner-city, my old stomping ground, demolished because of quake damage, most have been reduced to rubble or relocated.
Of course there are many of my favourites which have another R – remained-open over the past two years, or have reopened after minor damage was repaired. Some places and activities had to close temporarily while neighbouring buildings were ‘deconstructed’ – for instance punting in the city centre and Victoria Square are now accessible.
A few of my special city-centre places in the ‘remained open’ (or closed briefly) category are, The Classic Villa; Canterbury Museum; Botanic Gardens; Coffee House; Tiffany’s; The Antigua Boat Sheds. Check them out!
Two places that have been reduced to rubble and relocated are Strawberry Fare, (Bealey Ave) and C1 Café. Interestingly, Sam has just moved his café right across from his original High Street spot – into what was my Post Office when I was a child and living in the Central Fire Station. On the corner of High and Tuam, as well as the cafe he now has a roof-top garden (complete with grapes and bees!) with the best views of the city and its rebuild. Get a coffee, go up in the ancient lift, climb the circular stairway then out through the little doorway then spend time up there checking out the changed, and changing, view.
This old Post Office, built in 1932 in the Classical style, had in recent years morphed into Alice in Videoland and which is now an art-house theatre too – a valuable asset to the inner city. The Christchurch Art Gallery also has a temporary Art Gallery there, and now The Physics Room (project art space & residency) has return to its home in this building!
One of my favourites that are relocated from the city centre is the Dux de Lux – it’s sort of split into two a live music venue in Addington (Dux Live) and a restaurant on Riccarton Road (Dux Dine). Loved by locals and visitors, ‘the dux’, on the Arts Centre block, was famous for its vegetarian and seafood meals, live music, boutique beers, and casual dining.
I ate at Dux Dine a few weeks ago and can assure all this ‘new’ dux, offers the same excellent food and service. Although out of my beloved city centre, I have history here too! It’s in the old Riccarton railway station masters house where I have partied many years ago – and where the Ratana Apotoro Rehita (minister) who officiated at my wedding, lived! (Seems the world has 6 degrees of separation but in NZ it’s about 1½)
It was good to go punting through Victoria Square then through part of the ‘red zone’. Yet again it’s sad (Seeing history demolished) while encouraging. (Seeing history being created). Enjoy these glimpses of Christchurch and come back later to see more in the reopened, renovated, relocated or reduced-to–rubble story of this city.