City Planners from Hell
Sometimes you just cannot believe how the City Council is wasting ratepayers’ money. You get the impression they are spending days and hours thinking for which silly purpose they could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, just for the sake of changing something and making something new.
I have given up to understand the purpose of inner city planning, as they demolish historic buildings, and renew other things that are perfectly fine. What I find offending, however, is that they lie to the public in the attempt to justify the latest craziness. They tell the people of Christchurch that the overseas trend in city centres is to get the traffic back into the centre and reduce the area of pedestrian zones. The opposite is the case as we got confirmed on our last trip to Germany. What, I wonder, is overseas? Is Germany not overseas in the eyes of Christchurch City’s Councillors?
The story behind my anger is that they have made City Mall and Cashel Mall worse. Some business owners have not tired to tell us that it is necessary to get car traffic back into the pedestrian zone because people want to park right in front of the shops, and only by such mixed use of the streets people would come back to the city centre for their shopping and not go to the big malls in the outer suburbs where parking is free and convenient.
So they have started their work of destruction. Stage one has been finished around Christmas 2007, and the result is horrible. The pedestrian part of High Street – a diagonal road starting at the corner of Colombo and Hereford Streets – has just got the new grey-in-grey look. At the start there is a one-lane service road – but as this is only for a possible future use – it is blocked by two planter boxes. -
Some stainless steel benches invite the people to sit down. They are at the site of a former colourful tiled fountain, a real big piece of art, the tiles designed by children of Christchurch. The edges of the fountain served as seats, and in summer you could see many people sit around it and chat. Well, as the New Zealand Natural ice-cream shop right at this corner is just going to be replaced by a St. Pierre sushi shop we do not need such an nice, inviting and relaxing place to sit down anymore… ;-) Just dreadful!
The second masterpiece of planning was to demolish a pedestrian overbridge over High Street. By using this you could walk to the Bus Exchange in heavy rain without the need to step out into the rain. The second overbridge, linking the two sides of Cashel Street, is still standing but will also be demolished in the next stage of the so-called revival process of the inner city. Right now, there are many hanging baskets attached to this overbridge, and the plants give the place a lively feeling, and people are sitting on the seats under the pillar of the overbridge. But sure, a service lane is much more important in the middle of a pedestrian mall than nice seats and flowers.
And really, who would want to walk leisurely through Cashel Mall if the nightmare becomes true and cars are driving there in circles on the search of parking spaces? I wonder if they will even fell the nice trees in the second half of Cashel Mall, between Colombo Street and Oxford Terrace… Right now, this part of the mall is home to many buskers during the World Buskers Festival in January. What a piece of ignorance!
I for my part will boycott the shops which have actively supported the construction of the service lane.
Mountain Biking in the Port Hills on a Hire Bike
There is a great service for people who want to explore the Summit Road on their own, without the need to hire a car, but want to do it faster than just walking a stretch on the Crater Rim Walkway, and without the need to make the Hercules effort of getting the bike up the steep slopes of the Port Hills.
Talked to the hire guy who spends his time waiting for customers at the carpark below the Gondola on the Summit Road. Primarily he waits for people who have booked a combined Gondola&MTB tour that takes two hours and costs NZ$ 50. It includes the Gondola ride up to the summit of Mt. Cavendish, the hire of the bike and helmet and pick up back down in the valley. You have to walk 10 minutes downhill from the Gondola summit to the hire bikes. Two hours are allowed for the whole tour. You can choose which way you want to ride along the Summit Road and down the hills. Some people cycle towards the ocean, head down to the suburb of Sumner and back to Heathcote (base station of the Gondola). Others head the other way and ride down the hill – past the Sign of the Kiwi – to Cashmere.
You can also hire a bike for half a day or a full day. They pick you up at your accommodation and anywhere after your tour when you give them a call and advise them your location.
The hire for half a day costs $ 25, for the full day $ 35. The name of the company is The Mountain Bike Adventure Company.
The minimum age for hires is 15 years, and 12 years if the youth is accompanied by an adult.
You can book by phone or directly at the Gondola base and the Chch Visitor Centre on Cathedral Square. They provide everything, not just the bike, including safety helmet, windbreaker, gloves - plus route descriptions.
The city of Christchurch is located on a broad plain (ie. very flat land!!) but surrounding Christchurch are beautiful hills. It is possible to drive up there. They make for a fantastic picnic spot and provide awesome views of the city below.
Get your checkered Kiwi Icon Shirt
The typical Kiwi guy in a checkered shirt does not just wear any kind of shirt. He wears a Swanndri. This brand is as Kiwi as the Kiwi bird and gumboots. Clearly part of the Kiwiana items which make New Zealand.
Swanndri exists since 1913 when a Taranaki tailor named William Broome developed a work shirt with a secret waterproofing. Remember, he lived in Taranaki where it rains a lot more than here in Christchurch… ;-)
The work shirt, made from one hundred percent pure New Zealand wool, soon became the choice of Kiwi guys for its durability and practicality. The fabric keeps you warm and dry in winter and cool in summer. William named the shirt the Swanndri, because of the way the water ran off the back like on the back of a swan. Until today the original design remains unchanged.
In 2004 the two senior Alliance Textiles managers Julian Bowden and Gerard Kilpatrick bought Swanndri together with their friends Bryan Pearson and George Cowper. They grew the business and then sold it to Longbeach Holdings in November 2007.
The building of the headquarters and outlet store in Christchurch, next to Tower Junction, on Whiteleigh Road/Clarence Street (off Blenheim Road) is painted in an original Swanndri check, so immediately recognisable.
Trading hours Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat and Sun 10am – 4pm
In the city centre you find a Swanndri Retail Store in 123 Gloucester Street.
Christchurch retailers who sell Swanndri products:
Ballantynes, City Mall (Cashel Street)
DF Souvenirs, 730 Colombo Street
Protector Safety, 238 Annex Road, Sockburn
NZ Safety, 161 Waterloo Road, Hornby, and: 546 Moorehouse Ave, City
Clarke's Saddlery Ltd, 191 Manchester Street
Bus Transfers to and from the Railway Station
If you do not want to invest $ 40 to 50 for a taxi after a trip on the TranzAlpine train you can use public transportation.
If you want to travel to the city centre you have to take the #51 bus (final destination: New Brighton), and get off at the Bus Exchange. This is just about 100 metres from Cathedral Square.
If you want to go to the airport you have the choice of two bus lines. First the #51 bus, second: the Orbiter.
I recommend to take #51 as it goes to the Bus Exchange, and this stop is easily recognisable and known to every bus driver. (From the Orbiter you have to get off at Memorial Ave - but sometimes the drivers cannot tell you the correct stop.) From there you can travel on the same ticket to the airport by #10 bus (Harewood). You arrive inside the Bus Exchange; departure of the airport bus #10 is outside on the opposite side of Colombo Street.
The other advantage is that the bus will surely wait for the arrival of the TranzAlpine (scheduled for 6.05pm) as the stop is a terminal stop. Scheduled departure is at 6.12pm Mon - Fri and 6.17pm on Sat - no bus at this time on Sunday!
The trip to the Bus Exchange takes 8 minutes - can be some minutes more, but it really is a very short trip. The trip from there to the airport in the #10 bus takes less than 30 minutes. (The special Airport bus costs extra and more and is only a few minutes faster, so no need for that.)
You can check out connections on www.metroinfo.co.nz
BUT: It only gives you results for the Orbiter/#10 trip, not for #51 LOL Really complicated - but in fact very simple. When I asked at the Railway Station which bus they would use they gave me a folder of the #51 bus :-)
Anyway... If you want to check the journey planner you have to type: Tower Junction as the starting point (if you put in Railway Station you get no result - but it is right at Tower Junction). The final destination is: Christchurch International Airport (this is 20 metres from domestic).
When you walk out of the railway station you have to walk to the left, it is less than 100 metres to the bus stop. The final destination of the bus is New Brighton.
And if for whatever reason you miss the bus you can still take the next Orbiter at 6.30pm - or a taxi. At the station they said there are always plenty of taxis for the arrival of the TranzAlpine, and if not, they call more cars. During the day you will not see any taxi there as the TranzAlpine and TranzCoastal are the only trains that stop at the Chch Railway Station.
To carry on with those ridiculous transportation options...
The TranzCoastal arrives at 6.21pm - so no more #51 bus. If you do not want to invest in a taxi you depend on the Orbiter. Airport transfer as above. Transfer to the city centre: Get off at Westfield Riccarton (big shopping mall, every driver can tell you); from there nearly all city bound buses go to the Bus Exchange (## 3, 5, 19, for example).
For the trips to the Railway Station you have to use the Orbiter options as the first #51 buses at the Bus Exchange depart at 7.31am during the week, and 8.56am on Sat/Sun - but the TranzCoastal departs at 7am... The same applies for the TranzAlpine although departure is at 8.15am - but you have to check in half an hour before departure.
What I would do: Taxi from the city centre as it is only a short trip, SuperShuttle for longer trips. Of course, you can also book the SuperShuttle or similar shuttle services for the trip from the Railway Station to the airport.