Tuesday, August 2, 2016

One afternoon in Christchurch | Things to do & eat

Our final stop in New Zealand was Christchurch. I was curious to find out how the largest city on the South Island bounced back after the devastating 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. After spending all morning doing the laundry and repacking backpacks in our motel (an essential part of a road trip you'll never see on Instagram ;) but it has to be done, often!), we took the bus to the city to explore for a couple of hours. My alarm would go off at 4 am the next morning for my flight to Melbourne, so I really didn't get to see much of Christchurch (Chch, for the locals). But I wouldn't be me if I didn't manage to try at least a couple of hotspots! 

The bus dropped us at the central bus station in the city, where you immediately find a couple of nice coffee and food shops. I think the bus is the easiest and cheapest way to get around in Christchurch!

Since we had no plan, we just started walking East, where we saw many buildings still under construction. I was amazed at some buildings' façade's which were being held up by stacked containers. There's also lots of graffiti and street art around the city, which gives it a very creative vibe!

Sundowner & snacks at DUX Central
Since we were absolutely starving from doing the laundry for hours, we stopped at Dux Central for a nice drink and some food in the sunshine. Exactly what we needed! Dux Central is best known for its huge variety of beers (they have more than 180!), so I tried a Ginger Tom, an alcoholic ginger beer which tastes really refreshing. There's a range of nice snacks to choose from, so we tried the falafel tacos and some of the crunchiest and tastiest hand-cut chips we've ever had! Dux Central is a really cosy spot, perfectly located to catch those last rays of sunshine. 

Smash Palace looked like a really laid-back place for a drink and some food. The atmosphere was lively, with music and a bunch of people enjoying the nice post-summer weather (a London Brick-lane vibe!) It's open-air, so only for good-weather days. We'd only just left Dux so continued our walk. 

 Coffee at C1 Espresso
It wasn't long until we stopped again, to make up for the fact we skipped our daily coffee (any excuse...) Our short walk led us to C1 Espresso, a really impressive building - an old post office - which houses Christchurch's most iconic café. And indeed, the exterior matches the quality of the goods inside. C1 is open 7 days a week from 7 till 10, so it's an all-day café where you can start with eggs benedict and a strong Columbian coffee, or end the day with local wine and little burgers and curly fries delivered to your table through pneumatic tubes (Check the ceiling on the 5th pic below. How cool?!) 

Since we had just eaten we opted for a delicious cold drip coffee with soy milk and a vegan chocolate banana muffin (which was way too sweet for me though). The cold drip comes in the coolest bottle ever which - as a fan of owls - I took home as a souvenir. If I'd stayed in Christchurch longer I would have definitely gone back to try the fried tofu on toast and the quinoa patty sliders. And more coffee! 

After that caffeine-kick-in-the-butt we braved the windy streets of Christchurch, camera in hand. Walking around here gives you a strange and unfamiliar feeling. You can still really feel the aftermath of the earthquake, but the beautiful thing is that you can notice that the city's being reborn, slowly but surely. I could never imagine such devastation happening to Antwerp, so it must have been a tough couple of years for the locals here. I really wonder what it will look like in a couple of years time.

 Re:START Container Mall
What initially started as a short-term solution to the lack of buildings after the 2011 earthquakes, turned into a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Re:START is an outdoor mall made up of colourful containers and food trucks. There are shops, cafés, food trucks, a post office and even a bank. Such a creative solution and it looks kind of cool too. It reminds me a lot of Boxpark in Shoreditch, London.

And then it was time to go back to our Motel for an early night! I wish I could have seen more, like the parks and Botanic Gardens (which is why Christchurch is also known as the Garden City). There's always a next time!

© whiskers & lions

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