Left Melbourne yesterday evening and, after a brief delay (thanks Virgin Australia), we arrived in Christchurch. Flight was relatively quick at 2hrs 50mins, with published 3hrs 35mins so we did make up a little of the delay.
Immigration seemed quick and efficient, then bags through quickly on arrival at Christchurch. Wooden items we purchased in India and Bali were of interest to customs, so we got the secondary search of our bags (first time on this trip), but sort of expected as we’d watched that show on the National Geographic channel in the past, and kind of expected it. It was fairly quick to be honest, and the people were fairly pleasant.
Our seemingly 80 something year old driver then picked us up to take us to the hotel, and left us at the back door – we were alarmed at first as when we rang the bell, we got an answer phone machine !! We are staying at Hotel Montreal on Montreal Street. A nice sort of boutique type hotel, but very nice.
We finally got to our hotel around 130am, so today just took it easy around Christchurch – late start, coffee, lunch, stroll around, shopping. Lunch was sitting outside an old government building that is now a hotel and restaurant – good fish. Had a great dinner sitting outside (again) the hotel tonight – NZ lamb. Oh it was seriously good.
The city has still not recovered from the 2011 earthquake. There are obvious signs of rebuilding, sites flattened for future building, and general gaps in the skyline (although it is a very low rise city anyway). The cathedral was frankly sad to see – it had essentially caused one end of the building to collapse. But the gradual rebuilding seems to be continuing. It’s a nice city. People are friendly. I came here a few years back pre-earthquake and remember them being very friendly, and a ‘glad you visited’ type of attitude, which I’m pleased to say is still in existence.
Picking up our rental car in the morning, so the adventure really continues !!! We start by heading south. More to follow from that I’m sure.