I’ve only been to Christchurch twice, but on both occasions the weather gods have not been good to us. Our plans to go to Akaroa were put on hold as the rain poured down, and instead we drove over to Lyttelton for lunch. Lyttelton is about 20 minutes drive from Christchurch and is an historic port town, which suffered widespread damage as a result of the 2011 earthquakes. Much of Lyttelton’s architectural heritage was lost as a result of the earthquakes and the town’s oldest churches collapsed, including Canterbury’s oldest stone church, the Holy Trinity.
We went to Lyttelton the last time we were in Christchurch too, and caught the Saturday market. This time we were there on a Sunday, and the place was rather quiet to say the least. We stopped for lunch at Freemans on London Street, sitting out on the deck. I had smoked salmon fish cakes, while Karl had pizza. Both were excellent, the fish cakes being full of flavour and accompanied by asparagus, beans and an excellent sauce.
The Porthole pub, Lyttelton: come in for a drink, or the cat gets it
Suitably refreshed, we headed back into Christchurch and headed over to the newly re-opened Christchurch Art Gallery, which had been closed for nearly five years following the earthquakes. The building was used as the Civil Defence headquarters following the February 2011 quake, and after some major repairs to the foundations, the gallery opened again in December 2015.
Bill Culbert’s Bebop, 2013, hanging from the ceiling (chairs and fluorescent tubing)
We had a good look around the gallery, particularly enjoying “The newest, new world” by Pip and Pop (Australian artist Tanya Schultz), a fantastic creation made of fine sand, sugar, craft materials and found objects. You could spend hours looking at it and still miss little things I am sure.
From there we took a short walk to the Re:START container shopping area, created to encourage people and business back to the centre of the city following the February 2011 earthquake. The area has grown from 27 businesses in October 2011 to over 50 today, and has recently moved to a new location.
The container mall and what remains of the cathedral
We of course also took another look at the destroyed cathedral in the city centre, plans for which are still undecided.
By this time, we were in need of a rest before going to friends’ for dinner, so returned to our bed and breakfast. We stayed at Designer Cottage in Sydenham, built in 1900, and transformed into a very welcoming and friendly place to stay. Our host, Chet, was charming, and full of useful information about Christchurch and the local area. We breakfasted in a separate building with the other guests, being served cereals, toasts, local jams and marmalade, peanut butter, Marmite, copious amounts of tea and coffee and free range eggs cooked to order. Highly recommended as a place to stay should you be looking for bed and breakfast accommodation in the city.
And so our short stop over in Christchurch ended. The next day we headed south to Oamaru, but more about that in the next post.