Christchurch First Impression
During the decent into Christchurch I got to see a great sunrise over beautiful mountains. I hoped that this was a sign of good things to come.
The immigration officer that spoke to me seemed quite confused by my Canadian citizenship with European residency. She said in 19 years on the job, she’d never seen that. Hardly unique, but I agree not common.
Baggage collection was easy, but took *forever*. We were the only plane to arrive at this small airport, so I’m not sure what took so long. At least 45 after landing until the conveyor spit out the first bag. At least all luggage was there. Customs went smoothly, but they do x-ray or hand inspect EVERY bag. I was lucky to only be selected for x-ray. That line moved much quicker than the hand inspections.
After stopping in the arrival hall for a “Flat White”, which is basically a cappuccino with less foam and more milk (a LOT more milk), I exited the airport. It wasn’t what I’d call hot, being only in the low 20’s, but the humidity was pretty high. Coming from winter in Europe, it felt pretty sticky!
The “Red Zone” in downtown Christchurch is still a mess. Many buildings have been condemned after the series of Earthquakes they had a few years ago, and are fenced off to prevent people from entering. Meanwhile they just sit there waiting for repairs or to be demolished. Construction (or perhaps deconstruction) crews are everywhere, working at a fever pitch to complete the work as soon as possible. Clearly this has hurt the local economy BADLY.
Wandering around the downtown core, I found a collection of shops and restaurants all made from shipping containers. It appears to be built rather quickly after the ‘quakes to get small businesses up and running again. Smart idea!! Now it seems to be quite a ‘trendy’ area. Popular with locals and tourists alike. The idea works. I hope they keep it after the re-build is long over.
Next stop is the bus depot where we’re taking an inter-city bus to Kaikoura, where we’ll spend the night. It turns out to be a very nice highway coach, with plenty of luggage storage and empty seats. YEAH.