My first morning in Christchurch wasn’t as restful as I had hoped as the standard checkout time in New Zealand is apparently 10 AM. After quickly packing out of my hotel room I got a cheap Uber to move myself and my pile of luggage across town to the Kiwi Basecamp Backpackers. The hostel was perfectly nice, and included fresh baked bread and jam for breakfast every morning. In a trend that repeated itself at many of the hostels I’ve stayed at, many of the residents at the Basecamp were long-term guests on work visas. I’m not sure if this is always the case in New Zealand, or if there are just less visiting backpackers in New Zealand during the winter.
After finishing my move I spend the afternoon walking around Christchurch, and it was immediately clear how much of the city is still devastated from the 2011 earthquake. The only old buildings you see are boarded up and abandoned, with new buildings and construction everywhere. The huge cathedral in the center of town is missing an entire wall, and they still don’t know if they will ever be able to repair it. There is a temporarily cathedral that was built a few blocks away and uses a mixture of shipping containers, simple steel structure, and cardboard tubes instead of wood for decorative siding.
The Re:Start mall is one of the more popular post-quake sites: a shopping mall built out of shipping containers. It was a very nice place for lunch with plenty of outdoor seating, food trucks, and an excellent guitar player in the courtyard. One of the few things in Christchurch to survive the earthquake was the botanical gardens, so I spent a lovely afternoon walking around the gardens. The Canterbury museum also made a pleasant stop after my walk through the park.
In the evening I met up with two other folks from the hostel for a nice dinner. The plan was to go to Pedro’s House of Lamb, a to-go place that just serves lamb and potatoes. However, when we arrived they were already sold out for the day, so we had a tasty Thai meal nearby. After a fun evening hanging out with them I wished them the best on their trip, and packed up to leave Christchurch the next morning.