NZ South Island – Christchurch Day 1

We have really been lucky on this trip in regards to weather. We’ve been able to do everything we have wanted to do. The weather took a turn today. We woke up to it absolutely bucketing down rain. We are enduring a polar storm that has come up from Antarctica. It is very, very cold. We were still determined though and made our way through the freezing cold, pissing down rain to get to our bakery breakfast at Bohemian Bakery.

We got a Hungarian beef pie which was basically goulash in a pie which was different but quite good and also a croissant that was flaky and buttery. We also got a coffee each which was nice to warm up.

Ronnie needed an extra jumper to put on as an added layer because it was so cold. We ducked to H&M and grabbed one. Then we jumped onto the tram. The city tram in ChCh is a hop-on hop-off type of deal. You buy a ticket in the morning and can use it all day. It isn’t really a good way to get around though as everything is very walkable. The tram is also a city tour which was surprisingly excellent. We were the only ones on the the tram so the conductor sat next to us and was giving us great trivia about ChCh. The fact that 90% of the city centre was rubble only 11 years ago they have done a tremendous job of rebuilding.

We got off the tram at the art gallery as our first stop. The art gallery is a brand new and beautiful building so we went in expecting good exhibits. However, the exhibits were pretty ordinary. It was a bit too modern for our tastes. It was interesting but wasn’t our cup of tea. It was free admission though.

We braved the cold and rain once again and walked a couple of blocks up to the Canterbury museum which was also free admission. We had a look through and it was also pretty ordinary. We understand that they are sinking $105million into it as an upgrade in a few months though we we are guessing it will improve.

There was one excellent exhibit though which was called the Paua Shell House. It was an old house that was a tourist attraction in a small country town in the south of NZ called Bluff which was owned by a very old couple called Myrtle & Fred Flutey. Fred collected Paua Shells and “Kiwiana” and Myrtle decorated their walls with it. They became NZ famous and even did a Tip Top Bread ad. They ended up dying in 2001 and their whole living room got moved into the museum. As you walk in you watch a video about the whole thing which was really great – look them up, you won’t regret it.

After that we walked over (again through the pissing down rain) to the Riverside Market which is a permanent collection of food venues. It was very much reminiscent of the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid – you can tell they drew inspiration from this. We ended up having a feast here. First we got a Dosa from an Indian place called Dosa Kitchen. Dosa is always excellent and this one was no different. We also grabbed some sushi and some dumplings. They were pretty ordinary and were regrettable orders.

We then grabbed a crepe each. Ronnie for a lemon and icing sugar crepe and Aimee got the nutella and marshmallows crepe. These crepes went down a treat and were far better than the food. We also grabbed a pretzel on the way out which was nice.

We stopped by a chocolate shop called She Chocolate and got a gourmet hot chocolate. It was damn good and delicious, especially in this weather. We were so full though we struggled to share a single hot chocolate and get it all down.

After this we got back on the tram and completed the city tour. Christchurch is so well built and set out. That is the upside of being able to start again from scratch is that everything is modern and it is planned and well set out. It isn’t huge, but it feels really big and spaced out. There is beautiful street art everywhere in really clever locations. It is really the ideal city centre.

We got dropped off at the last stop of the tram which is Quake City. It is a museum that is based on the 2011 earthquake that absolutely flattened ChCh. There was a lot of information and some interesting testimonies and videos of what it was like on that day. It would have been absolute chaos and living in Christchurch would’ve been very difficult for a long time. When you walk around ChCh there are so many little car parks and the reason for that is, is that there are so many building that fell down and haven’t been replaced that they use the sites as car parks – ingenious really.

We spent some time in the hotel after this warming up before heading back out for dinner. We went to a classic fast food restaurant in New Zealand called Burger Fuel. We went here on our North Island trip and it was awesome so we decided a casual dinner would be good so we went again. It was good again. They give you a thing called a burger doofer that you put on the back of your burger to stop it from falling apart. Brilliant!

Then we were booked in for another escape room. This is becoming a bit of a trend. We love doing escape rooms and there are so many over here. It was also inside which helps us get out of the rain. This one was at Escape Artists in ChCh and we did the “Memories of Nikola” room that was based on Nikola Tesla. It was really exceptionally good. There was one point in the room where you lock the door and re-open it and you walk into completely different room. it was an amazing illusion. Really tricky! We needed up escaping with 3 minutes to spare! Really great. The puzzles were all intuitive and the technology used was super clever.

We went to New Regent street which is right near our accommodation and grabbed a gelato from Rollickin Gelato. We got Choc Mint and Salted Caramel. They have full on desserts here and we wanted to get one but we just could not fit it in. The gelato was delicious though.

It was back home and to our warm bed. It is expected to snow tonight for the first time since 1964 that it has snowed in ChCh in October. Interesting…

Bakery Breakfast –
Riverside food –
Quake City –
Burger Fuel –
Escape Room –
Rollickin –

Much love,
Ronnie & Aimee.

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