Our journey in New Zealand and Christchurch began in the very early hours of November 1st. We landed at midnight technically on Halloween and were buzzing from a quick and relaxing flight. We must have been in the last wave of flights arriving that night, because when we got to security, passengers from at least 3 other flights joined us.
Now when it comes to security points in airports Alex and I always try and go together, since we are travelling together. When we got to this section it offered Australians, along with New Zealanders, French and Germans to scan their passports, which was also a faster option. Alex has a scan passport but Dutchies were not on the list. And so we both lined up in the long snake line and set in for a wait. That was until one of the guards came to check passports, saw I was Australian and told me to go through the other line.
So off I went and was through within 5 minutes from the man asking me to go that way. Alex on the other hand was in line for a good half hour. In that time I collected our bags and waited, next to the Federal Police and a number of signs stating they were recording for the TV show Border Security.
Finally it was Alex’s turn to see the security guy, and I must note it took so long because it was midnight and their was only one guy working the desks. So he got there, presented his passport and answered the usual questions. However the wait was extended when Alex’s passport did not scan. The first, second or third time. The security guard asked if it had happened before, which it had not, and so it was taken to the back room for an extra examination. At this point we have been at security for about 45 minutes. It wasn’t long before they brought his passport back and explained that he was fine but it was their machine. Way to make entry into the country stress free even when you have not done anything wrong!
So we had our bags, we were in the country and in a taxi. We gave him the directions to our Airbnb and off we went. Just before we had caught the taxi I had called our Airbnb host, and remember it is around 1:30am at this point. I had spoken with her a few weeks prior stating our flight would be very late or early whichever way you put it, and she had said it would be fine as she would be up. I had called her just in case to make sure she was awake and that of course we would be able to get in the room.
And she was absolutely lovely! She was a lady in her mid 70s who did not speak much English, her daughter had been the one to arrange the booking, but she was up in her dressing gown waiting for us when we arrived. She showed us our beautiful room and then said goodnight.
We had found this Airbnb only a few weeks prior and it was absolutely perfect! A little room with a bed, oh a bed, and a little ensuite next to it all to ourselves.
Even though it was late, we were still technically on East Coast Australian time which was two hours prior, so we stayed up a little bit just chilling in a comfortable bed.
Staying up may have not been in our favour, because a few hours later when our alarm went around 8am for us to get up, we snoozed it and kept doing so for some time. But we justified it with a late flight in and the first day of our holiday in New Zealand, after all there was no rush to get going yet. Our time schedule is normally very slow anyways so why change it?!
So eventually when we left our Airbnb and went for a walk into the city, instead of finding a place for breakfast, we ended up having lunch. After that we explored the city, or in all honesty what was left of it and what had been rebuilt.
For us we had seen the news 6 and 7 years earlier when the earthquakes had occurred, but in all honesty had not then looked into it more, or realised the damage would still be quite as severe when we arrived on this trip. And there has been and continues to be serious building and fixing of the city, but there is a lot of damage. And because of that damage the city does not really have a center or a real hub that made it feel like a city. Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful city even with all the damage, and the rebuilding they are doing is creating some funky spots and hidden areas, but it makes it difficult to fill your day when half the city is under construction and there is not much else in between.
And so what does one do in Christchurch when all major landmarks are under construction?
Well after exploring the ‘center’, and the famous Cathedral Square that is beautiful even damaged, we went searching for hidden gems, i.e. Food.
Our first stop was just off the main mall. It was the ‘Container Mall’, which as the name suggests is a small mall of maybe 4-5 shops and then food trucks and container cafes, built out of shipping containers.
We assumed the reason behind the mall was to still have a small hub in the city after the earthquakes for people to meet. But the creativity in using shipping containers for this mall was awesome and we had a nice time exploring and drinking coffee.
It must be noted that this stop in Christchurch is on many tourist sites as a must see in Christchurch, and a location we searched only afterwards.
So once we had looked around there we walked the city streets. Along our walk, on a side street a few blocks from the Container Mall I noticed a building with some funky signs and thought ‘oo clothing shops let’s go there’. Well it turned out to be a new food court venue, which I wasn’t really disappointed about. And since we had eaten our breakfast at an early lunch time, it felt right to eat again and call it lunch. Who cares what time it was when your on holiday…
The space is the ‘Little High Eatery’ and has 8 food choices ranging from pizza, burgers, sushi, dumplings, Mexican, Thai, BBQ and cakes. I mean what more do you need?!
So of course Alex and I tried two different venues, both enjoying the food and devouring it quite quickly even given our last meal was less than 3 hours earlier.
So we have now eaten breakfast at lunch time, had a cool coffee and a late lunch around dinner time, all the while walking the entire city of Christchurch. It might not be that exciting of a tour of Christchurch, but we enjoyed eating our way around town on our first day there.
After our exploration, we walked back to our Airbnb through the city park, dodging golf balls as the park doubled as a golf course. When we arrived back at the Airbnb our host was waiting for us in her kitchen. It sounds slightly creepy that she was in a way waiting there for us, but once we went to have tea with her it was clear that she just loved the company and wanted to hear all about us and our travels. She gave us Iranian tea and snacks which were absolutely delicious, even giving us a few packets of biscuits when we asked what they were and where we could find them.
Not only was our host wonderfully kind, she also had some spectacular sayings on her wall, which we asked about. They were in Iranian** and said that if you have love, experiences and travel, nothing else is as important.
And yes this trip of course has required us to minimise a lot, as well as optionally become a little more resourceful, but this saying resonated with us because really at the end of the day, we have each other and as long as we have that and our memories of this trip and others, then the rest is insignificant. Ok yes that is a little too deep for a blog, but we liked our host, she left us with a nice little message. We like being minimalistic, which started out as necessity but has turned into everyday life.
After our afternoon tea, we lounged in our room for a while and then went out to find somewhere and something for dinner. It was slim pickings, but we found a pub open and got something to eat.
And that ends the beginning of our time in Christchurch. We mostly walked around and found awesome places to eat, we can’t complain about that can we?!
The next part of our journey will involve not only us, but some guests from the other side of the world….