Christchurch, New Zealand
During our time in Christchurch we stayed at the Southwark Apartments. The price was right but it would be an especially good place to stay if you were going to need laundry and a small kitchenette as all of these things were included. Just note that you must book parking in advance or you will need to find your own street parking which can be a little challenging to due its central location.
You immediately notice two things about this city, the artwork and the destruction. Two large earthquakes hit Christchurch, one in September of 2010 and the other February of 2011. Back to back destruction and the city center still shows the very obvious signs of damage. There are construction projects happening everywhere but still a lot of empty or abandoned buildings. In the midst of all this sad damage is tons of gorgeous street art. Huge murals coat the plain and crumbling walls and it is really quite an interesting mix.
Christchurch Activity Guide
You should absolutely learn the recent history of the earthquakes while you are in town. These events have played such a large role in shaping the city and the experiences of it’s residents. There is a great museum right in the center of town Quake City that does a wonderful job of explaining the immediate and ongoing impact of the quakes. Admission for adults is $20.
Re:START Mall or Container Mall
After the earthquakes there was a serious lack of buildings and operational businesses. This mall opened on October 29th, 2011 with retailers selling their goods out of shipping containers instead of buildings. By the residents of Christchurch and others as well, this was seen as a symbol of the innovation of the Christchurch community in the face of such great hardship. The mall has since been updated and the name changed to Container Mall. It is right near Quake City and an awesome place to peruse.
Explore The Murals and Street Art
Take a self guided tour of the local murals and street art. It is literally everywhere you look around the city and can make for a fun afternoon if the weather is nice. I found it to be one of the things that makes Christchurch unique as I have not travelled anywhere else that takes street art to the same level. Watch This Space offer a map of some of the best pieces if you want a little bit of guidance. Christchurch is a very walkable city so grab a nice drink and get to exploring!
Interested in learning more about New Zealand? Check out my other New Zealand Travel Tips & Tricks
This would be a great stop on your street art walking tour and is right in the center of town. Check out the destruction done to the large cathedral in the geographical center of town and the work being done to repair it. A pretty popular gathering place for people and activities. There was food truck festival going on here during our visit.
Orana Wildlife Park
I am going to be honest, this is pretty much the main reason we went through Christchurch. This and the Whale Watching tour in Kaikoura. Orana is an awesome open range zoo which plays a huge role in the conservation efforts of endangered species. It also houses the only gorillas and orangutans in the country. As soon as you enter you notice that it is unlike any other zoo you have probably been in to. The animals are in HUGE areas that are much more similar to their natural habitats than a zoo enclosure like you would normally see in other countries. There is no glass walls for kids to bang on and harass the animals, just open fields, fences and motes.
By far the BEST part of this zoo is the Lion Encounter where you stand in a caged trailer that is driven behind a truck into the lion enclosure during feeding time. There are 2 zoo employees with you in the trailer who will bring giant buckets of raw meat and feed the lions through the cage literally 1 foot from your face. The lions also jump on top of the cage to get food. Ok so I did this and it was the coolest thing EVER. I have no idea if you can do this anywhere else in the world but holy cow you do not realize how big lions are until they are standing on top of you. During the feeding the zoologists will also teach you all about the lions.
The cost is $45 per person on top of the zoo entrance and you should definitely book in advance. That is an absurd price for something that would cost hundreds in the USA. This is one of the coolest things I have ever done, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
That Foodie Life
There is not shortage of good eats in this eclectic little city but for a truly awesome dining experience be sure to check out C1 Espresso where your food will be delivered through Pneumatic tubes!