All the other warnings are definitely true about this cheeky little bird, the Kea. While we were in a bird sanctuary learning about a different bird, I felt a little poke on my side. At first I thought I ran into a loose nail on one of the boards and snagged my shirt, so I ignored it. The second time I felt the poke, I stuck my hand down to unlatch myself, only to feel feathers. Sure enough, on my side was a cheeky little Kea pulling my wallet out of my side pocket, and pecking me when I was not in a proper position to let him do it!
This bird is also known for its pestering of your cars as well, reaching in and pecking out the rubber windshield wipers and air caps.
Just some time ago when we walked past Victoria Square we saw this tourist bus's shattered glass door. As we could not find any travel group in the park or the buffet restaurant on the other side of Colombo Street, we walked to Cathedral Square and reported the burglary to police.
It is possible that the tourists stayed at the Copthorne Hotel and had taken all their belongings from the bus. But there were signs that some people had left clothes, cushions, etc. in the bus. Over night or early in the morning some lowlives broke into the bus and looked for valuables. I hope there was nothing of interest for them.
But this incident shows: Tour buses should not be considered as banksafes, or places where you could safely store your stuff. Only do so when it is 100% sure that the driver will stay in the bus while you go on walking or shopping tours. Do not leave anything behind you would be sorry to lose.
How sad is this???
Lately I spotted a sign in the toilets of the Arts Centre, telling people that they should not hang their (hand)bags on the hooks at the toilet doors.
Obviously there are scumbags walking around and grabbing bags hanging on the hooks from outside the cubicles while the visitors go about their business.
They also warn people to leave their belongings unattended in other places at the Arts Centre. I can well imagine that this is a haven for thieves, with people sitting on the benches or on the lawn having their meals purchased at the foodstalls on Saturdays and Sundays, strolling along the arts stalls, having closer looks at the exhibited items and not worrying too much about their bags.
So take care - like everywhere where it gets crowded.
Photo 2 shows the sign with the full text of the warning.
Christchurch has a growing number of youths racing around Christchurch in their fast cars. These so called 'boy racers' (they call themselves 'car enthusiasts') are a real menace and obviously don't tend to be able to stop very quickly given the speeds they travel at. There are regular meeting places that you should avoid at night including around Hagley Park though these are regularly cleaned up by the Police. Be warned that often their is alcohol involved so the judgement of the boy racers will be rather impared.
Unprovoked attacks are getting more and more common in the city centre at night. Not only drunken people and people on drugs cause massive problems. One of the latest attacks were executed by sober but aggressive young people, and eight (!) English and Danish tourists were the victims.
One of them had to stay in hospital for quite a long time as he had suffered serious stab wounds. Four of the five attackers were caught, thanks to security camera footage.
I do not really know what to recommend. Surely I will not recommend to stay at home, as this would leave the inner city streets to the thugs. I can only ask you to be cautious, and not to get drunken or on drugs yourself, as with a clear mind you can assess risky situations better. If still something bad happens, it is sadly a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Like this tourist group, who would have thought that a group of eight people would be attacked by some lowlives?
I would suggest not to walk to your accommodation late at night if it is not nearby, or the way leads through lonesome streets. There are night buses available on the weekends, and to invest in a taxi and have a drink less can save you from a lot of trouble.
The City Council has been discussing more patrols at night but due to the cost no additional safety measures have been taken yet. At the moment the patrols (by security guards, not police) end at 9pm (April 2008).
In the meantime think twice if you have to walk through an empty street or pedestrian zone like Cashel Mall after midnight. Places like Manchester Street where pubs and bars and lined up, and many doormen around, seem safer. A lot of trouble is reported from the Strip (Oxford Terrace) after midnight, especially on weekends when all idiots head into town.
Just a little reminder:
It is forbidden to drink alcohol in public in the inner city.
Christchurch has been rapidly getting a bname for not being one of the safest places to visit. Like most cities, Christchurch has its 'braindead' element who like nothing better than to go out, have too much to drink and cause problems. This is especially so with our local car loving boy racer community.
Just like any other city at night, be sesnsible about where you go and be vigilant when you travel alone. Things are not too dire as yet however the rising rate of peronal attacks should be noted.
The photo speaks for itself. As we have a tourist tramway travelling on a circle line in the city, you must be aware of the tracks. Do not get too close to them when cycling straight ahead, and if you turn and have to cross the tracks, cross them at a 90° angle, so you do not slip into the track and go down from the bike head first.
The other danger in the city comes from motorists. They pose a risk to cyclists everywhere in the world but NZ is an extremely bad place. Although everybody seems to know that you have to respect cyclists as part of the traffic, I think the problem with drivers here is that they do not have to take compulsory driving lessons for getting a license.
Although the streets are full of cyclists cycling is not safe in Christchurch. There are not many cycling lanes, and as soon as cars turns the danger ride for the cyclists start, not to mention drivers opening doors without looking if a cyclist comes from behind. Many roads are too narrow. And in letters to the editor some correspondents have seriously suggested cyclists should stay away from the Summit Road and other scenic drives as they make driving difficult and slow down the traffic! You see, not a lot of understanding for cyclists.
A typical situation is that a driver would overtake a cyclist at a safe distance, but as soon as there is oncoming traffic they still overtake, and trying to stay on their lane they nearly scratch the cyclist. I have seen this hundreds of times.
Note: Of course I do not like cyclists on the road when I am in the car – but I treat them as I would want to be respected when I am on the bike. This means: staying behind them until I can see if it is safe to overtake without making them fall into the ditch.
If you are in the surrounding areas of Christchurch (not on an organized tour), and you run across a native Maori... make sure you do whatever possible not to get him/her mad. If you happen to see this face come out, you probably want to make sure your last will and testament are all in order, as it is possibly the last thing you will see.
Luckily for me, this particular individual was part of the Kotane show, and therefore we did not have anything to worry about. Still, be very careful.
We noticed that quite consistently, every statue we came across in Christchurch had a seagull perched on top of it. In many times, the bird was doing more than just sitting as well. Being a large man, I was sometimes concerned that these birds were looking at me with evil intentions anytime I stopped and stood still for more than a minute or so. So make sure you are careful where you are standing and for how long while in ChCh!
It does not happen every day but it is reported in the local newspaper (The Press) every now and then.
Tourists park their campervans on the carpark of a big supermarket and stock up for the big trip - and when they come back all their belongings are stolen from the van, including laptops, cameras etc.
So take care when leaving the campervan unattended on such carparks. Either write shopping lists and one of you stays with the vehicle, or take your valuables with you, or deposit them somewhere while you do the shopping.
If someone has broken into your van call the police and at least get a case number, so you have a confirmation for your travel insurance (if you have any... hopefully...). Normally police attend the scene. However, in the VT Forum I have heard that they do not do it everywhere, as the chance is very slim to catch the gangsters.
The Police Kiosk in the Cathedral Square is a safe haven if you find yourself in trouble.
There are Police on duty so you can pop in and have a chat if you have had a 'bad moment' and need the assistance of the constabulary.
There is a front desk looked after by a couple of ladies who can provide general help & advice. If you have a more serious issue then they can get one of the constables to have a chat with you.
Not too far away is the central police station so if the Kiosk is closed then you have another option. The police station is located on the corner of Cambridge Tce and Hereford street.
Be warned that Christchurch has its busiest visitor months in February and March. This means that hotel, motel & all other rooms are in short supply.
If you are coming to Christchurch in February or March then it is highly advisable to book your accommodation in advance. Have a look at this Accommodation Link for some ideas.
I note that there is currently a big sign in the Visitors Centre with this advice. They have been very, very busy over the last couple of weeks with big queues of people wanting help throught eh centre's room finding service. Avoid disappointment and plan ahead!!
Althouth there have not been any newspaper reports about this problem lately there still is a risk that luggage gets stolen at Christchurch Domestic Airport. The baggage claim in the domestic arrival area is open to everybody, so also burglars can grab a bag or suitcase which looks promising. So do not buy chocolates or flowers directly after arrival but get to the baggage claim as fast as possible, so you are there when the belt starts to run.
The international arrival area is behind closed doors, so the luggage is safe there.
Wonderful Service and pizza at Bailies Irish Bar near Cathedral Square could lead to excessive consumption! This can result in sleep-walking and worse! Don't go there!!!
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