Christchurch did not prove to be any disappointment despite its devastating earthquake back in 2010. Fresh from 28 hours of travel, I embarked upon the city and hit the Botanical Gardens. The gardens were so enchanting and the fall foliage was beautiful! My favourite part was the rose garden – you could smell the roses before you even turned the corner. They smelled so sweet and were so big and vibrant against the grey day.
After the lovely walk through the gardens I visited the Re:Start Centre downtown and saw the brightly coloured shipping containers. These big and colourful shipping containers were created as art in an effort to bring some life and vibrancy back to the city.
The construction is very apparent the further you walk into downtown. The cathedral square is still in complete ruins – as though an earthquake hit just the other day. It made me sad to see, but at the same time I was happy to be visiting. There is still such optimism and hope buzzing throughout. You can see and feel the amount of effort that is going into bringing life back into the city and the locals are very, very friendly.
While in Christchurch I stayed at Jailhouse Accommodation, which is an old jail turned into a hostel. My room had a tiny bunk bed and bars on the windows. Despite piling on several blankets I was still chilly in my room! I absolutely felt like a prisoner. There are a couple rooms kept exactly how they were when inmates stayed in them. The last prisoner that stayed here was in 1999, and his room remains the same – with tons of drawings and text scribbled along the walls.
I’m really glad I got to see Christchurch. I feel like it shouldn’t be missed when traveling to New Zealand. There is still beauty and life shining through the ruins. Simply visiting the city provides support and hope that it will soon reconstruct into something just as incredible as before.