Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful

Narrated by Alaina

After two long days of travel, Mike and I were thrilled to finally land in Christchurch, New Zealand. We had decided a few weeks back that instead of immediately picking up our “camper” (RV is not an appreciated word around here) we would get a room through AirBnb for a couple nights to enjoy a hot shower and a nice comfy bed. Best decision ever. Our host, John, greeted us at the airport and brought us to his and his wife’s home which is conveniently near the airport.

After an amazing nights sleep we enjoyed homemade bread and chatted with two sisters who were also staying at the house. One of the ladies, Afsaneh and her husband founded Viberi, an organic company with a focus on black currants. We plan on visiting her farm when we start our drive south tomorrow!

We then decided to go explore downtown Christchurch and caught the bus around the block. The bus experience is an absolute pleasure here. The drivers are so nice, gave us pointers, and the amazing thing? When people exit the bus all riders say thank you. It was quite refreshing.

In 2011 the center of Christchurch was decimated by a large earthquake and it is amazing to see how the city is rebuilding. The first place we wanted to explore was ReStart. It’s a mall that is made of shipping containers. It was so cool to visit these unique shops that are literally transportable (apologies as all my photos are on on my big camera and we didn’t pack a laptop). As we were walking into a very cool shop, we noticed black clouds overhead and it was then that nickel size hail started falling, and then all hail broke lose #punny:



When the shop attendant learned that it was our first day in New Zealand, she started laughing and informed us that this was not normal. Go figure.

When the storm subsided, we then began our walk to the other side of the business district, but somehow got delayed at an adorable courtyard that housed three restaurants, offered cocktails and board games.

After our slight detour, we walked to the memorial of those who died in the earthquake. 183 different types of chairs, all painted white, have been arranged on a small plot of land directly across from the CTV building where 108 people died after the building collapsed. While extremely simple in concept, it is unbelievably moving looking at a white baby seat and seeing construction cranes in the background.

The next stop, one block away, was the Christchurch Cathedral, also known as the cardboard Cathedral. Japanese “emergency architect” Shigeru Ban visited after the earthquake and offered to design a cardboard cathedral. Made of cardboard, local wood, and steel, with a polished concrete floor and a strong polycarbonate roof, it is built to 130% of the current NZ earthquake code.

 We lucked out and arrived as the boys choir was rehearsing. Mike and I were mesmerized by how good they were and only wished our moms had been there to share it with us. We stayed for a length of time, lit a candle, and just enjoyed the simplicity of the Cathedrals design.

In the cathedral mode, we then attempted to go see the Christchurch Cathedral which is behind fences. The earthquake did a number as the bell tower collapsed, the foundation cracked like a plate, and much of the stained glass was destroyed. Unfortunately a huge squall came through so Mike and I had to cut our exploring short. We ran through the frigid rain and huge wind gusts back to the bus station and of course, within five minutes the sun was shining while we looked like drowned rats.

I don’t think we could have had a better first day.

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