Balmy, British Christchurch, New Zealand

Alas, I had but one day in Christchurch, so I spent it walking around the city center. The weather here is positively balmy after the deep freeze of Queenstown and I stripped down from four layers of clothing to two. Even the flowers are still in bloom here – these pink roses hanging over blue rosemary blooms were so fragrant as I walked by that I just had to lean over and take a good long whiff. I had heard that Christchurch is the most British of New Zealand’s towns. After my walking tour I have to agree. City tours are conducted aboard the trolleys that run on rails down the center of the downtown streets, advertisements are posted on tall round cylinders on major street corners, and red phone booths scream England, as does the stone architecture with its crenelated towers and copper clad spires. Even the river that runs through the center of town is named the Avon.

Blooming roses in Christchurch New Zealand
Blooming roses in Christchurch

Perhaps the most famous building here is the Christchurch Cathedral, located in the center of Cathedral Square, where musicians play, high- brows play chess with giant pieces on a side- walk board, seagulls desecrate statues with their droppings, vendors hawk their wares from booths set up in the square, and Christian fanatics try to convert the unfaithful.

Christchurch street car New Zealand
Christchurch street car
Arts Center Christchurch New Zealand
Arts Center
River runs through the center of Christchurch New Zealand
River runs through the center of Christchurch
Christchurch Cathedral New Zealand
Christchurch Cathedral

Around the city center it seemed as if every third street was a pedestrian mall. People were out in droves – many of them in shirt sleeves and one hearty soul in shorts – shopping, walking, or just people watching. The Arts Center, once the home of University of Canterbury, is now a retail center with 40 shops, art galleries, restaurants, and an art-house cinema, all set among distinctive 19th century Gothic Revival architecture. Sculptures from local artisans surround the exterior of the Arts Center, like this bronze child leaning against her “love” balloon or this fanciful jester, offering up his humor to the heavens.

Downtown Christchurch New Zealand
Downtown Christchurch
Outdoor sculpture at the Arts Center Christchurch New Zealand
Outdoor sculpture at the Arts Center
Outdoor sculpture at the Arts Center Christchurch New Zealand
Outdoor sculpture at the Arts Center

I wish I’d had more time here but I leave at 4 AM tomorrow morning for Sydney, Australia. Who knows, maybe I will be back some day. If I do return, I will be sure to stay again at the Windsor Hotel, which is a wonderful place with reasonable rates, located right in the city center. Two weeks is definitely (or as they say here in New Zealand, DEE-fin-it-lee) not long enough to see this amazing country.

UPDATE: Christchurch suffered sever damage from earthquakes that occurred after I visited New Zealand. Sadly, the lovely Cathedral was damaged beyond repair and Windsor Hotel was closed permanently.

3 thoughts on “Balmy, British Christchurch, New Zealand”

  1. New Zealand is one of my favorite countries to visit. I have been there a few times. Always amazing, always beautiful and the people there are some of the nicest anywhere in the world.

  2. Christchurch is a small town with a big famous history,
    Christchurch town was actually began as a Saxon village. Its original name was Tweoxneam, which wordly means that between 2 rivers. The Saxon settlement stood on a triangular piece of land between the rivers.Today Christchurch has a population of 40,000


Leave a Comment