A new adventure begins! We fly to Melbourne where we spend a couple of days before embarking on the cruise ship Grand Princess for a 13 night circumnavigation of New Zealand. Returning to land, our holiday continues at Phillip Island and ends with one last day back where we started in Melbourne. Join me for a round trip, on sea and on land, to destinations both familiar and new.
Ōtautahi / Christchurch
It was rainy and cold in Christchurch but we found a great way to stay dry, on a Christchurch Tram. With interesting commentary by the drivers and 17 stops around the city centre, we were able to explore in comfort. On such a wet day we chose to alight at just a few stops on the route.
As we rode along the tram driver told us about the earthquakes which struck Christchurch on 4th September, 2010 and again on 22nd February, 2011. While the first earthquake was stronger at magnitude 7.1, the second at magnitude 6.3 caused widespread devastation and killed 185 people. Our driver explained how the city is rebuilding using construction techniques designed to withstand future tremors.
To learn more about the 2011 earthquake we left the tram at Quake City, a special exhibition by Canterbury Museum. Displays explaining the science of the earthquake and the response, from both local and international personnel, gave us a greater understanding of what happened to the city and its people.
Back on the tram, we went next to Cathedral Square. After reading about the destruction of Christ Church Cathedral, it was heartening to see firsthand the ongoing restoration work, scheduled for completion in 2027.
Other stops on the tram route included New Regent Street and Victoria Square.
New Regent Street is a wide pedestrian mall with shops, boutiques and cafés on either side of the tram line. We admired the pastel coloured Spanish Mission style buildings dating from the 1930s.
During a break in the rain at Victoria Square we saw Queen Victoria and Mana Motuhake, a Māori commemoration of the Treaty of Waitangi.
We finally left the tram at the top of City Mall. Here we stopped to pay our respects to past and present members of New Zealand’s Defence Forces at the Bridge of Remembrance, a beautiful war memorial spanning the Avon River.
It was a short walk along the mall to the Riverside Market. The indoor farmers’ market, selling local produce and artisan foods was a welcome respite from the rain. We enjoyed a hot lunch and the beer lovers sampled a local brew at the Canterbury Brewers Collective.
After beginning our day in Christchurch at Quake City, it seemed fitting to finish at the Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, located beside the Avon River close to the Bridge of Remembrance. The Māori name for the memorial, Oi Manawa, means ‘tremor or quivering of the heart’.
The curved stone wall is inscribed with the names of the 185 people who died in the 2011 earthquake.
Back on board our ship late in the afternoon, the rain finally stopped and the sky was clear again. The setting sun cast a golden glow over the water as we sailed out of Lyttleton Harbour en route to Wellington.