June 11, 2017, 11:14 p.m.
Spring in my step
Christchurch, New Zealand
I’ve been very fortunate with the weather the past few days. My time riding the bus on the west coast saw no rain in one of the wettest regions of New Zealand. My views of the mountains were largely unobstructed. And on my first full day in Christchurch the weather reached 18 degrees (~64 F), unusually high for this time of year. It feels like springtime.
My intention today was to take a leisurely walk to the Canterbury Museum, but on the way I was sidetracked by a small cobblestone street filled with shops. I enjoy traversing those. The street had tracks running through it, and as I walked along, an antiquated looking tram pulled up, the conductor stepped out and reversed the lines to head in the opposite direction. He reversed the wooden seats too. I seized the opportunity, climbed on, and for a short time it was just the conductor and I, riding the rails through the city. Christchurch is quite big by New Zealand standards, with all the large shopping areas and cultural amenities a city typically has. As I rode around, however, I saw everywhere construction projects and wreckage. The city is still rebuilding from the devastating earthquake of 2011 that leveled roughly 80% of the buildings. I can tell it will be quite an impressive place once all the work is complete. Another stroke of fortune is that my accommodation is in a house built just over one hundred years ago that largely withstood the earthquake, and I’ve been observing all the subtle and not so subtle differences between such a house and the more recently built structures in New Zealand. I won’t go into details since this is the kind of thing that is probably more interesting to experience than to read about.
While intending to take the tram to the museum I stepped off a few stops early to check out the newly reopened Christchurch Art Gallery. It displayed mostly modern art, much of it inspired by Maori history and how their present day identity has been shaped by European settlement. I spent a few hours walking around and taking photos of exhibits that caught my eye.
Next I grabbed a quick lunch and continued my walk to the museum, but ended up next door at the botanical gardens, which are completely free to enter. Given the time of year there was not much to see in terms of flowering plants other than what was in the nursery, but it was still nice to enjoy the spring-like weather surrounded by greenery and the associated sounds and smells. One interesting factoid about New Zealand – nearly all the flora is evergreen. Despite arriving at the start of winter there was plenty of green to be seen.
I am sitting at the botanical gardens now, writing this post. The plan is to take the tram back to my accommodation and have some dinner, but of course who knows what I’ll end up finding on the way. I suppose I will visit the museum tomorrow.
NEW ZEALAND (SOUTH)
NEW ZEALAND (NORTH)