My Life in Motion

An Update on the Garden City

Looking across the Avon River to New Regent StreetEverywhere looks beautiful in the spring sunshine, even a city that is essentially a construction site. Every few days my commute to and from work takes me on a different route as the road works continue to spread round the city like a parasite. A route that I could follow one day is blocked the next, and as the weeks pass, detours to the detours pop up, taking me down side-streets and residential roads in the midst of repair. Caution: Flat Surface AheadIn some places where the roads have returned to a flatness not seen for three years, locals have developed a sense of humour and put warning signs up to drivers not accustomed to driving without avoiding potholes. The street outside my flat has been restricted to 1 lane for as long as I can remember now. First it was dug up for the water pipes, then the sewage pipes, and now the storm water pipes. They dig it up, do the work, close it up, re-open the road, then 2 weeks later dig it all back up again for the next lot of pipes. At the time of writing, we have received notification of the roadworks outside our property continuing into 2014, as they have still to replace the lateral storm pipes to the individual properties. To me, the roadworks are like scars on the landscape, and I almost look forward to showing them off to visitors, as if to say ‘look what this city has gone through, and this is how we heal’.

River Avon, Hagley ParkAs the cold and short days diminish into a memory, River Avonthe cherry blossoms that line Hagley Park bloomed in a mass of pink glory before falling, and with the sunshine and warming days, the city has a spring buzz about it. Magnolias in Hagley ParkThe Botanical Gardens are blooming, and packed on the weekends, and the Avon river is busy with people punting, and paddling leisurely as it winds through the park. The cutest baby birds you will ever see!Ducklings and goslings join their parents on the banks of the river to the delight of those strolling through the gardens. The Port Hills have returned to a green colour after last summer’s drought, and the budding trees and bird song can’t fail to make me feel happy and hopeful for the summer ahead.












In the city there is continued progress. The first section of the Avon River Precinct has been completed and opened, and I look forward to this being extended along the banks of the river as it winds through the city.

Buildings are popping up all over the place, and I’m excited at the buzz that is developing around Repairing the broken Jubilee clock on Victoria StreetVictoria Street where multiple rebuild projects are pushing ahead at once. This precinct will become a haven of bars and cafes, and the latest one to reopen is the Carlton Bar at the junction of Bealey Avenue and Papanui Road. Wall Art - Mr 4 SquareMore art work is covering the bare walls and Steeple Peopleempty spaces created as the last of the buildings come down in the city centre.The gnome outside the Arts Centre Cathedral Square has re-opened to the public, and whilst the fate of the Christchurch CathedralCathedral itself is no further forward, Christchurch Cathedralthe square itself is buzzing with people again, Government Building, latterly the Tourist Visitor Centreand colourful focal points of art line the fences around those buildings still closed to the public.

































Cardboard Cathedral


With the fate of the Christchurch Cathedral still in debate, a few months ago saw the official opening of the temporary and controversial replacement, the Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral. Cardboard CathedralMade out of large tubular pillars of reinforced cardboard amongst a steel structure, it has a life expectancy of 50 years. Designed by a renowned Japanese architect, it was and indeed is still a talking point with relation to the amount of money spent on it. I myself was initially a skeptic, but now that it is complete, I think that it is a pretty structure (well at least from the front it is!) and it has been exceedingly well used since its opening, proving a popular venue for talks and art exhibits aside from the regular church use, and there is always people around it and in it when I drive past it on my way home from work. Whilst not religious myself, I think it stands well as a religious meeting place but also gives the city a distinctive and unusual tourist attraction.

Part of the Heritage hotel coming downNearly gone...A few big changes in the city centre include the demolition of the Heritage hotel and The Chalice with the BNZ building half demolished behindBNZ buildings on Cathedral Square and the Copthorne HotelCopthorne hotel on Victoria Square. Copthorne viewed from the other sideThis latter demolition caused a bit of a news scandal when it partly Copthorne Hotel after collapsingcollapsed during the process, resulting in a week’s halt whilst safety was evaluated to pull down the 2 walls which were left standing. The tramlines have been getting re-laid in sections and Cathedral JunctionCathedral Junction is not far away from re-opening. Within the complex, a new boutique hotel has opened as well as some apartments on the other side. It is still hoped to get the tram running on part of the network by the end of the year. Work has also started on ‘the Strip’, investor Antony Gough’s pet project to redevelop the social area between Cashel Street and Hereford Street. With work only advanced as far as digging down to lay foundations on one plot, it is going to be a long awaited opening.

Another demolition



























In the surrounding blocks, Nearly demolishedit is a mixture of untouched buildings waiting decisions regarding their fate, empty plots of land awaiting consent or sale, and other buildings which are being demolished. Catholic Cathedral on Barbadoes StreetThere is little building work occurring in the immediate vicinity to Cathedral Square.

Temporary Art Sculpture











For a brief period between Peterborough Street and Kilmore Street was an art installation representing the earthquakes which encouraged The message of a strangerpeople to write their feelings and thoughts on it for it then to be burned in a form of cathartic release. Whilst there are many people like myself that are full of hope for this city, it was clear judging by many of the comments, that there is still a lot of despair, helplessness and anger amongst the people of Christchurch. But with the impending summer comes the festivals and activities around the city, and especially centred around Hagley Park, where people can come together in the sunshine and relax for a few hours, and hopefully forget for a while all those other problems.

Bridle PathOutwith the city centre, the popular Bridle Path walk has reopened. Starting at the gondola centre next to the entrance to the Lyttleton tunnel, it snakes up to summit road, and down the other side to Lyttleton. Christchurch from Summit RoadIt also meets the Crater Rim walk which connects to the upper gondola building and the walk itself is open in sections. Taylor's Mistake to Godley Head walkAlso reopened is the Godley Head walk, a fantastic coastal walk from Taylor’s Mistake round to the old World War II batteries that protected the entrance to Lyttleton Harbour. The views along the coast and over to the Banks Peninsula are amazing. A common sight in the Port HillsWhilst several walking tracks in the Port Hills remain closed (and for some, may never reopen) there are many open and ready to be explored. I saw my first wild (live) possum whilst hiking through Kennedy Bush (they are a common sight squashed on the road), and this area is an amazing place to walk to be completely surrounded by birdsong. Governor's BayIt isn’t far to go to find a view of Governor’s Bay from here either.

Pukekos at Travis Wetlands














The more I explore this city, the more places I find to while away a few hours. Travis Wetlands sits north east of the city centre in the suburb of Burwood. Black Swan at Travis WetlandsIt is surrounded on all sides by developments, but within the wetland boundary is a large lake with surrounding wetlands that is a haven for both aquatic birds but a host of wetland birds too. I have a soft spot for Pukekos and they are in abundance here. The wetlands also has a fantastic view south towards the Port Hills.

Giraffe at Orana Wildlife Park



A few months ago, I went to Orana Park on the outskirts of Christchurch on a whim. I’m not a big fan of zoos and wildlife parks because a lot of them fall short with the standard of enclosures, but Orana is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo, and it was a nice day so I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt. It’s not huge by any means, but it was a nice size to walk round and I paid a little extra for a drive through the lion enclosure. Lion being fed above our headsCrammed into a large cage on the back of a truck, we trundled into the lion enclosure during feeding time, and I have to admit I was quite thrilled to have a fully grown lion jump on the roof and drool through the bars above our heads.

It was the closest I had ever, and probably will ever, get to a lion and it was amazing to see their claws and teeth in such proximity as they snarled at each other over small bites of meat. MeerkatsI also fell in love with the meerkats and Asiatic Short-Clawed Ottersotters, both of which I could have just watched at play all day.









This city is constantly evolving, and it with a projected outlook of 10-20 years before a sense of ‘normality’ and completion is achieved, there’s going to be plenty of updates to report!


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2 thoughts on “An Update on the Garden City

  1. zupher on said:

    Loves the pictures and your passion toward to your hometown. Looking forward to brand new city..with its all normality. Plz do update us!!

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