Heather Hapeta lives in Aotearoa-New Zealand: real travel, real adventures, real stories, real photos. Recent destinations Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and Hong Kong – now NZ destinations due to COVID travel restrictions
As well as riding the rails recently, in Christchurch New Zealand, I also rode a caterpillar: no, not the turn-into-a-butterfly type caterpillar but an electric one in the city’s Botanic Gardens – this is Caterpillar Garden Tour is one of the attractions operated by Welcome Aboard
Known to Māori for hundreds of years, Christchurch was officially settled by the British in 1850. Plans for the Botanic Gardens began 13 years later in the area that at that stage were largely made up of wetlands and sand dunes, and in 1863 an English oak was planted to commemorate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s eldest son Prince Albert – this is the same year that my maternal family arrived from Cornwall, followed in 1872 by my paternal Scottish ancestors. Like those early trees, our roots are deep in the plains and peninsula.
Nestled in a loop of the Avon River the gardens are a popular place for locals and visitors value that the area was ‘reserved for ever as a public park and to be open with the recreation and enjoyment of the public’ when Christchurch was in its infancy.
A magnetic observatory has stood here in the gardens since the beginning of the 20th century. This is not the original building but is on the very spot where explorers such as Scott and Shackleton calibrated their instruments before heading to the South Pole.
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.
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.
World-wide people are concerned about and for my home city Christchurch after the September 4th earthquake and it’s devastating February aftershock on 22nd February 2011 Of course concern and ‘sending good thoughts’ are important, but even more important is the need for cash to help the homeless, the now unemployed, the traumatised, and to rebuild the city, including schools. Money is also need to reconnect electricity, phones, sewage and rebuild roads.
One of my inner-city, Wellington, neighbours – Grow from Here – a little green oasis in the Cuba Street area on the city is having an old-fashioned bring and buy, see more here . . .
“Bring and buy stall raising funds for the Redcross _ Christchurch
Obviously there is a lot going on to help Christchurch this weekend but this is something a little different, and nice 🙂 There is going to be a little “Bring and Buy” stall selling cakes etc, Real Groovy have donated some vinyl, Aeon have donated some vintage clothes, Martha’s Pantry high tea vouchers, more info to come!! Everyone can participate! Bring baking and any other items people might like to buy. [more]
At the other end of the scale, Mr Key, the NZ Prime Minister has launched the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, a global fundraiser for the recovery effort. Donations for this will be accepted at www.christchurchearthquakeappeal.govt.nz
This balcony has much history attached to it: I believe Queen Elizabeth 2nd waved to her subjects from here as have many other people. But, more important for you to know is … drum roll please … it is from this very balcony, Clarendon Hotel, in June 1964, here in Christchurch, New Zealand, THE BEATLES WAVED TO ME .. yes me, Heather the kiwitravelwriter, not anyone else – especially the group that had a sign saying they didn’t like the Beatles! Perhaps we need a plaque there to announce this historic event. ( Back then I was Heather, student nurse!) Read about their trip here
And Abby Road? Do you know that the studio they used – right by the pedestrian crossing that was used on one of their album covers – has just been granted a protective covenant so it can’t be demolished. Read more here
Yesterday ( 23rd Jan 2010) despite the showers and an unseasonbly cool summer Saturday, Cantabrians turned out to check out, and welcome the new Deans Stand. Redevelopment of the AMI stadium, home of the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby and cricket, was completed late last year – slightly ahead of schedule – so Christchurch is the first city to have it’s staduim ready for the the RWC 2011. ( SeemsRugby League and Soccer -football in the nthn hemisphere – will play here too soon.)
The 13,523-seat Deans Stand, with a 32-metre-long roof and standing 33m high, gives the stadium a permanent capacity of 38,628: temporary seating for the World Cup raises it to 45,000. See what TV1 and TV3have to say about it.
Cantabrians are known in New Zealand as being one-eyed as we support our local team no matter what! Of course that is very easy — after all we supply many players to the All Blacks, and our number 7 (Ritchie McCaw) is the world’s number 1!
We locals have lots of other players to be proud of .. . see more here.