After yesterday’s mountain mayhem, we were up for a mellow Sunday of walking around the city of Christchurch, which is very walkable. As any guidebook will tell you, it sits on a plain and is basically flat. Kind of like walking around Denver, only at sea level. We even started off like the locals by watching the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team, play England in London. (The name comes from the fact the team wears all-black uniforms.) We are up early anyway so we flipped on the TV to catch some of the action. The game was well underway at 7 a.m. local time and the All-Blacks prevailed 15-14. I know basically nothing about rugby, except to say they appear to tackle better than most NFL players any more. The game was decided largely by a penalty. England appeared to score late to take the lead, but it was wiped out by an off-side penalty. Don’t ask me how that happens in rugby but I suspect the English fans were mighty pissed off.
After a leisurely morning we ambled out to meet Casey at a restaurant called Black Betty (it’s a black-themed day I guess) downtown at around 10:30. It’s a breakfast and lunch place that had a broad menu of really interesting choices. You could get a traditional English-style breakfast if you wanted, but I opted for a breakfast taco, while Pat had a version of avocado toast that seems to be all the rage everywhere. (She had a similar thing in Miami a couple months ago.) After a cold and rainy start on our arrival day the weather has been continually improving.
After that we strolled the city. Now much of the downtown is still a mess from the earthquake that leveled the city in 2011, with construction cranes and damaged buildings throughout the city’s central core. But there are still some nice areas, in particular Hadley Park, which is one of the largest city parks in the world. We spent time in the botanical garden, but there are other sections with wide grassy expanses, a golf course and other activities. Needless to say it is a popular spot for joggers, bicyclists, and walkers.
We also stopped in the Arts Centre, which has reopened after post-earthquake restoration. It is comprised of a series of artisan-operated shops. Outside there was a crafts fair and a demonstration of traditional wood crafting. We also toured through the Canterbury Museum, which has exhibits related to the area’s history, starting with early Polynesian settlers 900 years ago up through the early European colonists and the present. The entry is free and it’s worth a visit.
The other thing happening today was a parade and other activities related to the WWI Armistice signed 100 years ago today, but unfortunately we were unable to catch some of that activity. But a lot of Kiwi’s died in that war relative to the population of the country, especially at the 1915 Battle of the Somme and the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign that was dreamed up by Winston Churchill and was basically a huge debacle. But enough of history lessons; it was interesting that they commemorated those long-dead soldiers.
Tomorrow we will leave Casey to her remaining time in Christchurch and set off on the next leg of our trip, to Lake Tekapo, and then on to Mount Cook the following day. Some other photos from the day follow.