Downtown Christchurch, Christchurch
Favorite thing: The tram is running again (it's a tourist tram with a defined circuit that you can hop on and hop off) and the tram stop on Cathedral Square has been restored. Nice to see the tram making its bright way around the city.
The city centre features a huge new steel sculpture, an oversized bunch of wheat, higher than the surrounding high-rise buildings. Its name is "Flour Power". (August/September 2008)
The square at the corner of High and Colombo Streets is now called Stewart Plaza (in the strange attempt to make the centre more flash and posh and luxurious...), and there the new sculpture sits.
The artist said something stupid like he wanted to remind the people that we do not have wheat around Christchurch anymore, not considering that the Canterbury Plains have always been a grazing ground. Never mind, it is there now, it is big, it is striking, and a bit strange. But we will get used to it.
The sculpture has been commissioned in the revamping process of the inner city which has made many things worse, or at least less attractive - including felling trees. Somehow the so-called pedestrian zones look a bit cold and lack of atmosphere. But they are modern in the sense of stylish. The modern city centres in Europe which they always refer to look different. But as you know, we are far away from the world.
Flour Power's predecessor was a nice fountain which was always surrounded by lots of people. The fountain was covered in colourful tiles children had painted. I really loved it. What a pity it has to go in Christchurch's attempt to become a world-class city...
Update 11 Oct 2010
I got a note from some anonymous short-time VT member, telling me that the Stewart family have donated money towards the new sculpture to remind people of the life of Sir Robertson Huntly Stewart (1913 - 2007), so he would not be forgotten. The family had already paid for the nice fountain which was demolished at the site for giving Christchurch a posher look.
I happily acknowledge this. However, it does not make the sculpture look any better.
But I also want to say that this is a generous gesture of the Stewart family, so Cantabrians will not forget how much Sir Robertson has done for the city and how successful he was as an industrialist and exporter. In honour of his achievements and good spirit, he was included in the row of sculptures, named Canterbury Heroes, on Worcester Boulevard, right in front of the Arts Centre.
You can read more about his life here:
The horror goes on. Not that they demolish the well-loved overbridges of City Mall and build a service lane right through the pedestrian zone. Remarkably on Arbor Day workers cut six mature trees in Cashel Mall, in front of the Ballantynes warehouse. I could not believe my eyes when I saw this legally allowed act of vandalism. The City Council only apoligised for the bad choice of day, not for cutting down the trees.
Somebody suggested to cut down the trees of Hagley Park, so we get an unobstructed view through the park to Riccarton. It would be laughable, were it not so, so sad.
You should have seen the lots of people enjoying to sit on the seats under the trees in their lunch breaks, enjoying the heat of summer days in the shade of the canopies. Now they are gone because we obviously need this traffic lane to make the inner city more attractive – for whom? And we can admire the concrete facades of the surrounding buildings. And we will certainly enjoy the pedestrian zone more when we cannot just stroll around any longer but look out for cars and risk being hit by a car. What act of stupidity!
Update 8 Feb 2010
In the meantime the service lane has become a tramway line. The inner city circle is going to be extended and should be in use by the start of the Rugby World Cup in late 2011. Without trees you can now look through the empty airsprace down to the Bridge of Remembrance. The funny thing is, of course, that consciously many people who know, and consciously tourists who don't know avoid walking on those tramway tracks that still lead to nowhere ;-) Just walk down to the bridge and you will see.
Photo 2 shows one of the felled trees after the act of vandalism in City Mall.
The Edmonds Band Rotunda was donated to Christchurch by Thomas Edmonds and was opened on 11 Nov. 1929. It is the location of many events including a few free concerts and was converted to a restaurant in 1989. In the late 1980's it was a very chic place to go for lunch serving very nice french cuisine. Currently it is listed as Retour Restaurant and still serves french style food. Very well rated too!
The Rotunda is located near the corner of Manchester St & Cambridge Tce and looks over the Avon River near the middle of town.
New Regent St has been upgraded and is a very nice spot to stop and take a break. There is a Tram stop here so you can get off & back on again if you are doing the tram circuit.
The street has a Spanish feel to the architecture with the balconies very similar to those that you would find in the small side streets of Barcelona. Some shops have flowers hanging from their 2nd floor balcony adding to the flair of the street.
There are several cafes, restaurants, a book shop and a beauty shop to mention a few. Of note is 6 Chairs Missing (restaurant) and the Daily Grind for coffee. There is also Little India on one corner and, the hit & miss, Flying Barrito Brothers at the opposite end.
Favorite thing: This splendid fountain nestles between the Avon River and the Town Hall complex. It is a really well designed fountain that makes an attractive sight on the bank of the Avon from Victoria Square. This is one of my favourite things in Christchurch. Fountains are cool. This one is very cool.
Favorite thing: Christchurch's trams are a quaint element of the city. I never took one as everywhere I wanted to go was in walking distance or beyond the coverage of the trams. The trams do a circuit of the downtown area and the Lonely Planet advices it would often be quicker and cheaper to walk than take the tram. It's nice that the city council has preserved these old trams. They certainly add to the urban scenery and are another aspect that makes Christchurch different to other NZ cities. The scene shown here is of a tram at the Cathedral Square tram stop with the fine old Regent Building in the background.
Favorite thing: The I-site information centre is located in the beautiful old central post office building in Cathedral Square. You can book activities and accommodation here and the staff are very friendly and helpful. I booked a day trip to Akaroa here. There are brochures and maps available to help you plan your time in Christchurch. The I-site is open from 0830 to 1700 daily except Sunday, when it opening and closing times are different.
Christchurch streetscapes are wonderfully human in scale. There are no canyons of glass, concrete and steel here. Instead the city is a pleasure to walk around and,despite its small size, there are several quite distinct areas within the city centre itself, let alone the suburbs and outer reaches of the city.
The area known to Christchurchians as "The Strip" is the Cashel Street Mall and part of Oxford Terrace. This is where to come to shop in the city's main stores, and to stay on in the evening for a drink or dinner at one of the Oxford Terrace restaurants that overlook the Avon.
Defined as the Cultural Precinct is the area bounded by Cathedral Square at the eastern end and the Museum and Botanic Gardens on Rolleston Avenue at the west. In between you'll find the Art Gallery, the Arts Centre, the City Library and the Contemporary Art Institute plus more good restaurants and another prety litle stretch of the river.
North of the Cathedral you'll find pretty Victoria Square, the river again - an ever -present part of city life and New Regent Street's mix of outdoor cafes, funky shops and art-deco-meets- Spanish-mission architecture. Cross the river here to the Town Hall and another attractive area of inner Christchurch around Cramner Square.
Fondest memory: Just walking, walking , walking. It's all flat, never crowded, the river is never far away, the trams and bright red phone boxes add a whimsical touch, parks and gardens invite you to stop awhile, and there are plenty of good outdoor cafes for a coffee stop. It's all very, very appealing.
Favorite thing: The City Council have really gotten their act together in Christchurch in recent years and we now have good transportation in the upgraded bus service plus a great approach to keeping Christchurch clean. A great example of this is the Fountain area behind the Town Hall. Each week the CCC give the fountains the once over and clean up the whole area. I captured a before an after shot so you can see what a wee bit of love and attention can do for a city's appearance.
Christchurch has two rivers that go through it with the Avon wandering through its heart. On a sunny day it is fantastic to sit on either the grass or one of many seats and take some time out. There are some nice places in the middle of town plus some beautiful spots to kills some time and built some positive karma in the Botanic Gardens at the end of Wordester Boulevard. The Avon winds its way through town (you follow the river during the Christchurch Marathon) and out past New Brighton to finish in the Estuary near Ferrymead.
BTW, the other river is the Heathcoteand this one, unfortunately, goes through part of the industrial area in Bamford/Woolston so it's rather nasty by the time it gets to the Estuary.
Favorite thing: Travel to Christchurch is great as the weather you get here is normally quite good. With cool but dry winters and warm summers Christchurch is a good place to be. Sometimes the weather doesn't play its part and it can get really cold and wet. It can also snow here but not often though when it does, it is usually quite memorable. If it does get messy, weather wise, there are plenty of places to hold up in and wait out the weather - bars, cafes etc etc.
Favorite thing: At the Cathedral Square in the centre of town you will find a huge chess board. It's open for use during the daylight hours and it's pretty much runs on 'wait your turn' rules. There is a mini 'grandstand' there so you can sit and watch as long as you like too...
The Visitors Centre should be one of your first places to go when coming to my fair city. It has heaps of help for the travellor including accommodation finding service, brochures of all the places you want to go in Christchurch plus most of the South Island, bus timetables and it has the entrance to the Aquarium.
Fondest memory: The Centre is located in the South Western corner of the Cathedral Square and can be accessed through the main doors (as you can see in the photo) or via the Wheelchair access to the left as well as access through Hereford St walkway.
Free entertainment - ah.. always a good thing.
Saw this session at Cathedral Square... the group was pretty good actually.. spent 1/2 hr simply lolling time here.. be careful of the seagulls though.. they can get pretty agressive.