Riding a caterpillar in Christchurch!

use botanic chch

use botanic chch2As 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.

the Avon provides a great setting
the Avon provides a great setting

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.

Scott and Shackleton worked from this spot
Scott and Shackleton worked from this spot

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.


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Has it reopened, relocated, been renovated, or reduced-to-rubble?

???????????????????????????????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-torubble. 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.

Punting beside the 1880s Queen Anne building, the city’s first council office.

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!

Up to C1 cafe’s rooftop
360 degree views of the rubble and emerging new city from C1
360 degree views of the rubble and emerging new city from C1

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-torubble story of this city.???????????????????????????????

Trinty Church ( now restaurant) is to be restored
Trinity Presbyterian Church, near square, (now a restaurant bar) is to be restored
Punt through Victoria Square (used to be Market Square)
Punt through Victoria Square (used to be Market Square)
Edmonds Rotunda has had the done taken off .. anyone know what's happening to it?
Edmonds Rotunda has had the done taken off .. anyone know what’s happening to it?
Strawberry Fare has produced great food for years!
Strawberry Fare has produced great food for years!


World wide concern after Christchurch earthquake & aftershock

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.

Looking down from my balcony to grow from Here

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

Donations can also be made to the Red Cross online or via the GrabOne website or fundraiseonline.co.nz, as the Red Cross site has been crashing.

Fore more information see Christchurch earthquake: How you can help

the beatles, abby road, and me!

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

Festival of flowers, Christchurch, NZ

try mowing this lawn!
try mowing this lawn .. pushing uphill is hard work
what is this woman up to? entrance to cathedral & floral carpet
entrance to an exhibtion

Christchurch first NZ city to be ready for Rugby World Cup 2011

The hallowed ground of what locals still call Lancaster Park - at the AMI Stadium, Christchurch

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. ( Seems Rugby League and Soccer -football in the nthn hemisphere – will play here too soon.)

Hadlee Stand from the new Deans Stand
Deans Stand

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 TV3 have 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!

Miss World NZ checks it out too - in her trendy RUGBY GIRL clothes

Magdalena Schoeman, Miss World NZ 2009, who will represent NZ at the Miss World finals in Jo’burg  SA was among the visitors at AMI Stadium – appropriately wearing the fashionable rugby girl label.

An open day brings the locals to check out the new Deans Stand - 23rd January 2010
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