A Different Christchurch
I know of a different Christchurch. A Christchurch that isn’t all about either major earthquake, but one that is happy and peaceful.
The date was February 21, 2011. Our two week cruise through New Zealand was meandering along, departing Sydney a week or so earlier. We were docked in the tiny port town of Lyttelton (Lyttelton was the epicenter for the 2011 quake. It’s now completely demolished). It was only a ten or twenty minute drive to the CBD of Christchurch. After hailing a cab, and clambering in, my mother couldn’t help but asking our driver about the 2010 quake. We were visiting only a few months after the September quake. He talked about how it was just like any other day. How he had been separated from his family when it happened. He talked about how Christchurch, and the whole country, was just recovering from the fatal blow. Those battle scars were healing over, and the Kiwis took pride in that. He dropped us off in Cathedral Square, the central gathering place of the city.
This was taken only 24 hours before the 2011 quake to rock Christchurch.
We meandered through the city, admiring the happiness and quaintness of it. Most of our morning was spent at a little wooden café, known as The Boatshed Café. It was a tiny hole in the wall place, perched on the Avon River. The allure of it was definitely the boatshed, where you could rent paddleboats and one-man kayaks for the hour. (The café is wooden, which gives it some immunity to earthquakes. I have no idea though if it’s still standing or not).
Our favorite little cafe in Christchurch, New Zealand
Catching a trolley, and heading back to Cathedral Square, we found a flea market, and a live street performer. He was wearing a blown up glove on his head, riding a tall unicycle, and juggling knives. Sharp knives.
A live street performer in Christchurch, New Zealand
We were there the day before the 2011 earthquake. It puts everything in perspective. What if… What if… What if… We watched the news clips from the 2011 earthquake and cringe. ‘Oh! We wandered down that street!’ No! That was a cute building!’ ‘God! That’s the pub we went to before boarded the ship… Or was.’ Christchurch may be geographically not the safest place, but the battle scars are begging to heal. Maybe one day, another traveler will be able to get to know a different Christchurch. A Christchurch that isn’t all about either major earthquake, but one that is happy and peaceful.
Austin Weihmiller is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program
All photos courtesy and copyright Austin Weihmiller