Tag Archives: Christchurch

Ain’t no mountain high enough (to keep us from Christchurch)

Thursday 6th November
Franz Josef to Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand

During our time in the South Island, we repeatedly heard that, due to the mountain range down the spine of the country, it is often the case that when it is raining on the west coast it is sunny in the east (and vice versa).  Therefore, we chased the sun to a certain extent during our time there, which meant heading back towards the east coast towards the end of the week.

Driving Franz Josef to Greymouth
On Thursday we drove back to Greymouth in the morning, stopping along the way for yet more photos of perfect glacial lakes, including Lake Mapourika.


Bus and train, Greymouth to Christchurch
We grabbed a nice lunch in town, before our TranzAlpine journey back to Christchurch. 

Unfortunately a landslip meant we did the first part of the trip, to Arthur’s Pass, on a bus replacement service (an experience that was very familiar from home!). But this did give us the opportunity to see some different views, because at one point the train goes through an 8.5km long tunnel rather than over the mountains.


We were also lucky that the weather was a little better than last time in some places, including at the journey’s highest point, giving us even more breathtaking views.




On arrival back in Christchurch, we went for a meal in a pub in Riccarton, where we sampled a burger containing the “traditional” Kiwi accompaniments, beetroot and a fried egg!  I believe that MacDonalds NZ has just re-issued the “Kiwi Burger” for its 25th anniversary, although I can pretty much guarantee that the version served in the Fox and Ferret at Riccarton is better, despite the cheesy London Underground signs adorning the pub’s walls!

Road sign of the day
The driving between Greymouth and Franz Josef wasn’t too tricky on the whole (and we were certainly helped by the fact that Kiwis drive on the left, like we do in the UK). However, there were a number of single carriageway bridges, including one that was shared with a railway (trains have priority, in case that needed to be made clear!).

We were also amused by this road sign. Roundabouts? No problem. Level crossings? That should be fine, thanks. Roundabouts with a rail line going right through the middle of them? Excuse me while I concentrate for a bit…



Highlights of the TranzAlpine train route

Monday 3rd November
Christchurch to Greymouth, South Island, New Zealand

When we were researching our visit to New Zealand, we were keen to see how much of the country we could enjoy by train. And the TranzAlpine route definitely got us excited – taking you from the east coast of South Island to the west coast, it’s widely considered to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. 

We were not disappointed. This spectacular journey leaves Christchurch across the Canterbury Plains, before heading up into the Southern Alps, then back down to Greymouth.

The train has the added advantage of an open carriage (cold and windy but fantastic for photos, as long as you’re quick!).

These are some of the incredible views we got to enjoy.






Product of the day
Spotted on a box of cereal bars. Not quite sure how it feels to be ‘as happy as a box of budgies’, but we’re assuming that it’s a good thing! And if you’re wondering what jandals are, apparently that’s what Kiwis call flip flops.


How to rebuild a city

Saturday 1st November – Sunday 2nd November
Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand

The flight from Wellington to Christchurch was absolutely beautiful, travelling across the Cook Strait and down the east coast of South Island. 

Christchurch city centre
When visiting the Te Papa museum in Wellington we’d learned a bit about the natural forces affecting the environment in New Zealand, including earthquakes. And if anyone wanted an example of the reality of earthquakes and the destruction they can cause, then Christchurch is it.

We had heard about the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch on 22nd February 2011 (we were less aware that there had been one before then, on 4th September 2010, which had already done some damage to older buildings in the city). Despite this, we weren’t prepared for what the centre of the city would look like when we arrived. Whole blocks levelled. Many of the buildings that were still standing had been condemned, and were clearly just waiting to come down. Infrastructure is also still in a poor state (which led to floods in the city last summer, according to one person I spoke to, due to the fact that the city’s drainage system is still not fixed).


But actually our experience of the city was a positive one – living proof that it’s not buildings that make cities, it’s the people that live there, and the creativity and positivity that they bring. This is a city that’s still living with a terrible recent past, but is facing the future with pride.

The Re:Start mall – Christchurch’s temporary city centre – is built out of shipping containers.




There’s also some fantastic art all over the city (the giraffe is from a new project called Christchurch Stands Tall, which can be found across the city).



But perhaps most impressive is the temporary cathedral that has been built. Nicknamed the ‘Cardboard Cathedral’, the structure is built from cardboard tubes, covered in corrugated plastic. A truly incredible building!



Rugby in Riccarton and Botanic Gardens
We are always looking for opportunities to enjoy sport in the countries we visit, and in New Zealand it had to be rugby union. So, first thing on Sunday morning, we headed a short distance out of the city centre to Riccarton, to a pub that was showing the All Blacks against the USA in Chicago (the first time the All Blacks have played in the US since 1980). It was all a bit one-sided – the final score was 74 – 6 to the All Blacks – but the USA played well in possession and the fans in the pub seemed to be enjoying it anyway.

On Sunday we also took a walk through the Botanic Gardens. It was a beautiful spring day, and showed a very different side of the city.

Photo of the day
This temporary art installation in Christchurch city centre is called ‘185 Empty Chairs’. The chairs represent the people that lost their lives in the earthquake of 22nd February 2011. The individuality of each chair pays tribute to the uniqueness of each person represented.