Christchurch is the largest city in New Zealand’s South Island and our first port of call on our roadtrip. Mr Jetlag & I had previously passed through 10 years ago on our honeymoon. I have fond memories of strolling around the Botanic Gardens and exploring Cathedral Square and the city centre. Sadly the latter was destroyed in a series of earthquakes in 2011, the 22nd Feb quake killing 185 people. The city is rebuilding itself, including re:START, a temporary shopping mall built with shipping containers and you can learn more about the earthquakes at ‘Quake City’.
We landed at around 10.30am following an overnight flight from Singapore. Thankfully I had listened to the advice of a fellow traveller who recommended no long drives on the first day. We decided instead to spend the rest of the day exploring Christchurch, before heading to our farmstay, only a 35 minute drive away.
What did we do in Christchurch?
- Dreaming of delicious, fresh produce (the likes of which we don’t get in HK), we headed straight for the Christchurch Farmer’s Market. This is held every Saturday from 9am to 1pm in the historic grounds of Riccarton and Bush. With a picturesque location by a stream, this was the perfect spot to grab some goodies for lunch.
- We then drove into the city centre and headed for Quake City, which is part of the Canterbury Museum. The exhibition takes you through personal stories of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and also looks at the science behind them.
I thought the whole thing was done very well and found the stories incredibly moving. There’s some great hands-on exhibits for kids, including rebuilding Christchurch with lego.
- Next to Quake City is re:START with its funky shops and food trucks. There’s also a small playground to keep kids amused while you sneak into the shops.
- A ten minute walk from Quake City is a beautiful and emotional tribute to those who died in the earthquake – 185 white chairs, representing the 185 lives lost. The memorial is visually arresting, each chair different and sparked many questions from my 7 year old (in a good way).
- I wish we’d had more time in Christchurch. I had really wanted to visit the International Antarctic Centre but I knew we would be seeing penguins further down the coast in Dunedin.
After wandering around downtown Christchurch, we drove 35 minutes south-west of the city towards our amazing farmstay, Warwickz Farm. More on that later as it truly deserves its own post!