Monday, February 16, 2009
Christchurch: The Garden City; Gateway to Antarctica; Our South Island New Zealand home for two weeks. Christchurch is larger than Hobart but that's not saying much now is it? Being the largest city on the South Island, we are talking about a population of about 350,000. There are definitely more sheep and cows here than people!
We were told that Christchurch is more English than England. I don't know about that, but it definitely has a more English feel about it than Australia, which had a more American feel. And it's not that you can understand the Kiwis a whole lot better than you can understand the Australians. They may both speak English, but sometimes subtitles would be real helpful.
The city here is quite lovely with many older building, tree lined streets, beautiful gardens and the Avon River running (just barely) through the center of town. They seem to have a strong arts community with an art museum, art galleries and exhibitions, a theater, and an arts center with a weekend arts market.
Christchurch is not on the coast but just a 12 km jaunt will put you at Lyttleton Harbour. Other coastal areas are also not too far and there are plenty of "water activities" for you to enjoy. In fact, the whole island is a playground and there is a plethora of outdoor adventures awaiting you.
With New Zealand, United States and Italy having their Antarctic Research Centers headquartered in Christchurch, this city is also considered the gateway to Antarctica. 70% of all flights to the Antarctic leave from the International Airport here. It would be great if we could catch one of those flights in order to hit the seventh continent, but none of those flights are open to the public. Guess we'll have to save that one for the next trip!
Christchurch is such a quaint and charming city and everything would be just perfect if it weren't for the fact that our apartment is right next to Sol Square which is a street lined with 24 hour bars that blast music into all hours of the evening (and morning). So much for quaint and charming!