We landed in Christchurch just after midnight and were still intrigued by its small town charm as greeted by warm hospitable kiwis trying really hard to impress us.
We’ve found an incomparable patriotic manner that almost all New Zealanders possess all over the south island – the Kiwis want everyone to have a memorable time in their country and will go to lengths to ensure that it does happen. We could get used to that!
We picked up our campervan early in the morning and set off to explore town, grabbed a “cuppa” and headed to the Art Precinct area to check out a few art galleries and unique exhibitions. We also spent some time at the Canterbury Museum which is known for its vast Moa exhibit (an ostrich like native bird that is now extinct) and learned a little about the history of Christchurch and the development of the new settlement, going back a mere hundred years. Although New Zealand is a fairly new country, the Kiwis are amazed when something is 100 years old, the most hilarious part is watching Europeans browse and say that their socks are older than that!
Picnicing in the botanical gardens was a shady treat and we enjoyed the cool weather and relaxed on the lush green native grass surrounding by thousands of gorgeous flowers in bloom and even saw some busy worker bees gathering pollen. All the buzzing, bee politics and “work” didn’t make us yearn to go back to the cubicles anytime soon!
Cathedral Square in the center of town was our favorite hang out spot replete with benches, huge chess board and many buskers trying to make a buck. Terry would have joined in on the juggling, but his special juggling balls (made from bird seed) were confiscated by airport security on the way in! We even managed to catch the noon mass in the cathedral itself, which was really cool with immense stained glass and a spiritual feel.
Before we left for our Banks Peninsula side trip, we grabbed a bite to eat with an Atlanta friend of ours from back home – what a weird feeling to be around people from home halfway across the world! Paula and Tom had the best insider not-in-the-guide-book secrets that would come in handy throughout our adventures on the North and South islands. Thanks y’all!
If you have time, definitely visit the Banks Penisula, a wonderful retreat right outside Christchurch!