Monday, May 21, 2012

Christchurch (part one)

As our plane rapidly dropped in altitude and neared Christchurch airport everybody strained to peer out of the window.  I'm not sure exactly what we were hoping to see, big gashes in the landscape and an otherwise barren wasteland I guess.  And we couldn't help but step off the plane with caution, as though the ground might wriggle away from under our feet the minute we tread on it.  Not exactly a relaxing place to have a holiday and take some time out!  As it turns out though it was the nicest trip to Christchurch that I've ever had.  Admittedly this had more to do with the company than anything else.  It was exactly the kind of detox week I needed!  Because I was down to visit my best friend and her adorable baby daughter my whole week was set on baby time.  Excessive TV watching, wasteful hours online and an over indulgence of alcohol was swapped with nap times, feeding times, baby entertaining and nappy changing... and you know what, I kind of loved it!  We were out and about everyday exploring the city and doing fun things but when it was time to nap, we napped and when it was time to eat, we ate.  Which is really the way life should be isn't it?!

The city itself had an eery, strange feeling to it though.  In fact it looks and feels a lot like what I imagine post WWII Germany might have been like.  We passed by whole streets of empty houses, dodged potholes on the road (one friend described it as needing to wear a sports bra just to drive to the store!), plots of rubble where there had once been a building, white crosses tied to fences and a horizon speckled with giant cranes.  The inner city just isn't there, and as a tourist that leaves you wondering where to go.  And what affected me most is that everybody is still so shaken up (sorry no pun intended) with shopping malls, tunnels and movie cinema's seem to be avoided whenever possible.  All these things that we normally take for granted suddenly seem like a risk.

But I don't want this  post to be all about the doom and gloom of the city because out of the mess people are creating some amazing things!  I'm a huge fan of the new shops and cafes that have sprung up in old shipping containers or quirky little caravans.  I also love the random art work that is filling up the now empty spaces.  Out of nowhere you suddenly come across a brightly painted piano sitting there and you have to double take to make sure you weren't just imagining things.  There is also an abundance of the most amazing vintage/ retro furniture in places like the eco store.  I very nearly shed tears and cursed myself for not having driven down so that I could fill my car with all those beautiful old wooden school chairs!  Other than that I was sad to see that most of my favourite second hand stores had perished, Christchurch was always where I found my finest loots!  Oh and then there was the utterly amazing Riccarton Markets.  They were heavenly I tell you, just heavenly!  Imagine if you could, rows and rows of antique/ vintage/ retro stalls with all sorts of exciting treasures.  Once again I couldn't bring anything home with me and wept a little inside!  I also sadly (no thanks to a dodgy soup I ate that made me rather ill) didn't get a chance to catch up with the lovely Miss Helga or any of the other vintage enthusiasts I was going to meet.  Next time I will be more organised though!

And then just as I was beginning to forget where I was... the ground began to rumble!  Not once, but five times.  Thanks for keeping me on my toes Christchurch!
P.S There are three posts dedicated to my Christchurch trip because I didn't want to overload you with images!  Stay tuned for Akaroa and Lyttelton.


  1. I love all the pop-up shops that I've seen emerging throughout Chch - lovely to see beautiful things coming out of something bad. And as I'm trying to find a location for my own pop up shop, i have been truly inspired. Looking forward to more photos. xxx

  2. I'm so grateful I got to experience Christchurch before the earthquakes. It is one of my absolutely favourite cities and I can't begin to imagine how the now compares to my memory of it. I'd love to go back, but I'm almost afraid to see how it has been changed! Especially with the Cathedral now being gone, or shrunk anyway.

  3. I was wondering if you or your readers might be able to advise me on something. My hubby & I are planning our annual trip to NZ & I have the option of being in Auckland for the Vintage Textile Fair held at Epsom, or the Riccarton Sunday Markets in Christchurch. I really don't know which one will be more worthwhile for a vintage lover, & I thought maybe you have been to both & could share your opinion? I have been to the Auckland fair before & I loved it, but have never done the Riccarton Markets. Thanks so much! Xx

    1. VBG- as a resident of Christchurch who has been to the Riccarton Markets quite a lot I would definitely advise going to the Auckland Vintage Textile Fair. The Riccarton Markets are really hit and miss and there is a lot of new cheap clothes/toy stalls, food stalls etc and not a lot of vintage/antique stuff. I have bought a few vintage things here and there over the years but mostly I've just bought fruit and veges there. It's not really a vintage type market although there are a few antique stalls.

    2. Thank you lovely girls for the advice. We have decided to arrive in Auckland for the Vintage Fair over the Riccarton Markets. I appreciate the insiders view. I am sure I'll do lots of damage at the Vintage Fair like last time! Thanks again for your help. Xx

  4. Thank you for the insight into that maltreated town. I hope people there will have no more earthquakes. It must be really a tremendous burden to live in constant fear of new earthquakes. Hugs from Germany!

  5. I'm glad you had a nice time in Chch. You must have come at the right time because normally the Eco store and the Riccarton Markets are kind of crap in my experience. Ferry Antiques is usually good though.