New World’s self checkout blurts out at me as I prepare to scan through fresh veggies, houmous, and bread (oh how I have missed bread..).
I stand back, puzzled.
Kia Ora? That dreadfully neon-orange looking fruit drink, popular in the 70’s for it’s “We All Adore a Kia-Ora” jingle? …?
No. Kia Ora is Māori language, and New Zealand’s way of saying “be healthy” or “hi!!”
I touched down in ChristChurch, a beautifully ordinary city currently rebuilding from an extraordinary disaster.
A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the centre of ChristChurch in 2011, tearing down buildings already shaken by the previous year’s earthquake. It killed 185 people from falling building debris and rocks, and many have a flicker of sadness in the eye when it was mentioned in conversation. It was heartbreaking.
It’s amazing to see how strong the community is in working together to rebuild. Every corner of the city centre is covered in cones and cranes and men working extremely hard to rebuild roads and office buildings. It looks like a really tough job.
Despite the city being a little quiet, the damp earthy smell and crisp fallen oak leaves reminded me of autumnal park walks in England.
In fact, everything reminded me of England here. The sturdy brick houses, every quirky slogan on advertisement boards, friendly English chit chat between the bus driver and the locals, and I was welcomed by sarcasm once again (something which I hadn’t heard for a while). I was basically back in Cambridgeshire.
This had me on tenterhooks. I had tried my hardest to live away from UK life and in two days I realised that I was there. Scary. Get me back to Japan!
This was until today, when I locked eyes on a hilly area south of ChristChurch city. I was curious, so I headed on what became a 3 hour walk to get there.
And found this.
And finally this.
I was in awe. New Zealand’s nature was captivating. I can see why people fly an entire day to come and see it.
So, this beautiful island is to be my home for the next 5 months, and it was starting to grow on me.
Also, I am especially excited to embrace New Zealand’s way of having feet free from shoes…
Hobbit feet are the way to go.
I stayed in a nice AirBnB 7 minutes drive from the airport, the host was really friendly and I got my own room for $30 per night, a reasonable price for New Zealand!
To get to the foot of Cashmere Hills, take the Blue Line Bus southbound from the city centre, it is much more convenient than walking from the centre of town!
Harry Ell Walkway is approx. 45 minutes from Victoria Park’s Visitor Centre to Sign of the Kiwi cafe. The view of Quail Island and Head Of The Bay can be seen from Mitchells Track, an 45min/hour long loop in Thomson Park Scenic Reserve.
Buses in Zone 1 (most of ChristChurch city) is $4.00 per ride. I have heard that a $10.00 Metrocard is cheaper and more convenient.
Many of the roads in the city centre have cones and diversions and some roads are closed, so be aware that traffic may be of higher volume, and you may have to plan alternative routes.
A lot of businesses in downtown have closed due to irreparable damage to the buildings, however there are still some good restaurants and shops open, and the Quake Museum may interest you if you want to learn more about the 2011 earthquake.
I encourage you to go and see because it is important to ChristChurch’s past and future history.