Thoughts in your head right now: WTF? Christchurch? Where is that? Why would you go there? Why did you not go to Aukland or Queenstown? Why Christchurch?
Honestly, I never would have travelled to New Zealand in the first place if it weren’t for my friend Vanessa, who has been living there for nearly two years! Initially, my summer vacation plan was to solely visit Australia but I made a last minute decision to take the scenic route and catch-up with her while I was on that side of the world. Thus, the reason for my visit to the largest city in the South Island.
Coming from South Korea, where temperatures reached up to 35 degrees with humidity, it was actually quite nice to feel the cooler, winter weather of Christchurch. After arriving from a 10-hour flight from Shanghai, where I had three seats to myself on the plane (ay yoo!), I took a quick shower and was ready to explore the city.
My first stop was the Christchurch Art Gallery, which was easy to spot with the 46-metre neon artwork outside the building saying, “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT” created by the late artist, Neil Graham.
At the art gallery I appreciated work from artists such as Len Lye, Bridget Riley, and Matisse. Admission was free and every day at 2PM there is a 45-minute tour of the gallery (also free!), which I highly recommend. There were only two of us on the tour so it was intimate and incredibly informative. It was here I learned about Māori, the original settlers of New Zealand. There were beautiful paintings and historic figures and facts about the Māori people, and I learned it is also an official language of the country, along with English and New Zealand sign language.
After being cultured at the gallery I went on a short walk to New Regent Street, a charming little area in Christchurch where you can rest at a cafe or browse around the handful of cute boutiques.
On New Regent Street I had my first flat white, which originated in New Zealand, but I’m sure Australians would have a different story. Heh heh. A flat white, if you don’t know, is an espresso-based caffeinated beverage and I learned the hard way that there’s no such thing as “a regular coffee” in New Zealand. As a Canadian, saying you’d like a “double-double” just won’t pass here. You either have to say you want a flat white or a long black, perhaps even an affogato. Everyone here is a coffee snob, and I’m kind of ok with that.
For breakfast the next morning Vanessa recommended I go to Uncommon Cafe, which has, in her opinion, the most Insta-worthy food. She wasn’t wrong. I got the buttermilk hotcake with all the fixings (watermelon, grapes, pineapple, dried raspberries, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, etc) and of course, I had to get another flat white (double shot!). The hotcake was hearty and delicious, not to mention a colourful masterpiece.
After breakfast I took a stroll to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum. I don’t know about you, but when I go to a new city, I love walking.. EVERYWHERE! Despite developing blisters on my feet, I rarely ever want to take public transportation because the best views, cafes, food, and shopping come from the smaller boutiques you wouldn’t know about if you didn’t take your time to explore by foot.
If you’re familiar with Christchurch, you know the city was destroyed by an earthquake that was 6.3 on the Ricther Scale on February 22, 2011. The entire city fell in a matter of 10 seconds and took the lives of 185 people. There is an unofficial memorial outside St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church called 185 Empty Chairs to remember those who have died in the disaster.
The proceeding day, I woke up in excitement to go on my first ever wine-o filled adventure! I didn’t know much about wine, other than I like red more than white.. and that’s all the knowledge I had, sadly. I went on the half-day Waipara Wine Trail Tour, and oh my gosh it was so much fun!
We stopped at beautiful wineries such as Pegasus Bay, Waipara Hills, Torlesse Wines and Waipara Springs. New Zealand is ideal for making wine because of its warm, dry climate and the tour was not shy when it came to pouring endless amounts of sauvignon blanc, pinot noirs, and rosé. We also had an incredible lunch filled with fruits, meats, homemade bread, and cheeses. I could eat that kind of stuff for dinner every single day.
Christchurch was a wonderful surprise, and I would love to go back to New Zealand one day! I have Vanessa to thank for all her awesome food and shopping recommendations, as well as hosting me for the four days and three nights I spent in Christchurch. She’s a kind, creative, bubbly individual and I’m lucky to have friends like her who live around the world.
OH YES! VLOG TIME! See Christchurch in all its glory, and watch me develop a love for Squiggles. What are Squiggles? WATCH THE VLOG BELOW TO FIND OUT! Sorry about the all-caps, just really passionate about all things Squiggle.