Sunday, April 15, 2007


Christchurch is, for all intents and purposes, more British than Britain. The city center is completely done in lovely stone and the centerpiece is a marvelous stone church, there are trams that run around the city center, and the Avon River winds through the botanical gardens when it's not running past streets with names like "Oxford Terrace." I even spied red London phone booths and a statue to Queen Victoria.

A very cute and lovely city that we had a wonderful time wandering through (we averaged about one block an hour because we kept stopping at the markets, the art gallery, the river to watch the punts...). Beautiful weather too- warm with clear blue skies! Too bad by 5pm on a Saturday every single shop was shut tight along with a suprising number of cafes and resteraunts, and as I was leaving Sunday most were closed along with most of the resteraunts and cafes. All in all I think Christchurch is likely a great place to grow up in and such, but probably not very good for college students.

(By the way, lest I forget, the drive from Queenstown to Christchurch is around six hours long, but spectacular. You see Mount Cook in the distance, drive past Mount John, and go through the plains upon which the big battle in the third LOTR was filmed- stunning!)

Another thing I rather liked about Christchurch was the Antarctic Centre next to the airport, which I visited before my flight. Christchurch is the closest major international city to Antarctica, you see, meaning 70% of all air traffic heads through Christchurch on the journey South. So you can go to their little museum and poke around a replica of Scott Base and go through a simulated Antarctic storm (long enough to realize you never ever want to go through the real thing), and even see a bunch of fairy penguins that were rescued from the wild. Except, perplexingly, they don't have fairy penguins in Antarctica but no one seemed to mind this except for me... there was also, I should note, a picture and blurb about BOOMEraNG in one of the exhibits, which excited me a lot and probably confused the nice Aussie tourists next to me a little bit.

But yes, Christchurch was a nice way to end the Southern Island adventure, and I'm back in Auckland now getting ready to head out to the Cook Islands for the next one. I've also taken well over a hundred pictures this past week, so those will be coming soonish.