Christchurch Second Impressions
September 27, 2019
I like it here. I really like it here. Honestly, we didn’t think we would as much. In 2013 we spent barely over 12 hours here and didn’t get a great first impression, so we were a bit ambivalent about returning. However, it made a lot of sense in the itinerary, and we got a great discount on the AirBnB for staying a full week, so here we are.
Obviously, an overnight is no way to get an accurate feel for a city, so we now admit we were completely wrong. But there has also been so much that has changed in those six years as the city continues to rebuild and reinvent itself from 2011 earthquakes that devastated 85% of the central city.
I have now been here barely 48 hours and have an entirely different view. I love it! We’ve done nothing monumental: settle into condo, walk to get groceries, make dinner, buy secondhand clothes and wander the botanical gardens and amazing Hagley Park. But it’s been bliss. Dan and I used the same word to describe our feelings: CONTENTED.
We are just contented to be here.
I am relishing in the cool, crisp air after the heavy humidity of Hawaii. I am comforted by my beloved flat white coffees. (How do they make them so velvety delicious??) I am indulging in amazing New Zealand wines and fresh, local foods. And I am adoring the Kiwis (the people, not the birds or the fruit). How is it these people are sooooooooooo nice?? After just being here two days, the local people are making the Hawaiian Aloha Spirit we loved so much look stuffy and apathetic.
We can’t stop marveling at the welcoming and friendly spirit of New Zealanders. From hotel porters to grocery store workers, they are so eager to share information about fun things to do here. The lady at the local pharmacy spent 10 minutes helping us pick out the perfect vitamins. The lady at the Red Cross Thrift Store insisted on going in back to dig through every bag of clothes to find us warm clothes for camping in the Otaga region. She was a mother hen, adamant that we needed more and warmer clothes so we didn’t “end up in the hospital with frostbite.” The condo/hotel receptionist offered to personally pick up our rubbish anytime we needed it emptied. (I couldn’t do it—I can take out my own trash.) We were overwhelmed with customer service. Doubly nice and ironic since tipping is not customary here, so I guess it’s just old fashioned nice-ness.
And unlike Hawaii, this city of 400,000 seems so livable, like you could actually make a life here and not just vacation. We’ve enjoyed watching office workers on their lunch breaks walking through the city center, and the bike/walking paths of the park bustling after work on Friday. Young lovers and senior citizens strolling through the botanical gardens, and young moms with their strollers congregating at the playgrounds as kids run around with ice cream cones.
So my second impression of Christchurch: I could live here.
Is it just the newness of the place? The honeymoon period? Likely. Let’s see what the next few days bring. But so far…I like it here. I really like it here.