I Love Christchurch
Mar 22, 2010
David Rich 500 Words
$1NZ=US 70 cents
I LOVE!! Christchurch
Cities are definitely not my thing though I love the occasional berg all over the world from Prague (sans the pickpockets) and Tashkent to Cartagena, Rio (without the gangs), Capetown, Marrakech, Freemantle and Lijiang. The best in New Zealand is Christchurch because of its excellent location and festivals from buskers to flowers, plus the spiffy Englishishness. Christchurch is New Zealand’s most British city: the River Avon flows through the middle at the prodigious depth of 4 inches, punters undeterred, and the inhabitants bill themselves the better Brits of the South.
Christchurch has it all from golden beaches and raucous ocean at Brighton to photogenic vistas and seemingly unending bays on the Banks Peninsula adjacent to the south of the city, a humongous extinct volcano with the middle blown out and a deep bay reaching to the original French settlement of Akaroa, while the Southern Alps glower on the eastern horizon. Photos embellish a million words.
This time around I arrived Christchurch in drizzle on the first day of the World Busker’s Festival held each February, a don’t-miss experience drawing 450 off-the-wall acts from all over the globe. Among others the first day featured a range from guys on ladders juggling knives to a Freddie Mercury aficionado on a unicycle giving piggy back rides to lithesome ladies. Even when the International festival isn’t in town the center of it all, Cathedral Square is a beehive of buskers from an hombre in black with a witches hat preaching atop a ladder to a blue-eyed violin virtuoso in tails, a shaggy Scot juggling colored balls while playing catch with local kids and another lad covered in twisty balloons. In addition the square offers the country’s best deals on Kiwi souvenirs, an English tram, street chess with giant pieces and a grand Anglican Cathedral.
I returned to Christchurch in March for the quite incredible Ellerslie International Flower Show sprawled over humongous Hagley Park next to the resident sculpture gardens. The weather was hot and sunny and the intricate displays were packed with the premier gardening nuts on the globe, Brits and their Kiwi cousins. Displays ranged from Maori to English country gardens interspersed with gardening and food fantasies, fairylands, visions, art and dreams, in addition to the grand sculpture park. Photos tell all.
The Banks Peninsula was formed by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption, leaving a plethora of outside bays, a summit ridge road with views for framing and, because it was originally settled by the French, a kitchiness unequaled elsewhere in New Zealand, plus dolphins and penguins to swim with. So next time you’re tired of the fast food boredom of home jet off to Christchurch’s international airport and you may love its stiff upper lip as much as I do.
When you go: Check out the Christchurch tourism website before you go: http://www.christchurchnz.com/, which list upcoming events, what to see and do, accommodations, places to explore, transportation, shopping, wining and dining. The Ellerslie Flower Show website is http://www.ellerslieflowershow.co.nz/ and the World Buskers Festival at http://www.worldbuskersfestival.com/ listing the 450 acts in 2010.