There is a quickening in the air as young creatures everywhere grow up and move out into the world. Ducklings lose their fuzzy baby down and grow mature features, although they still file carefully behind their mother as she escorts them from pond to pond, past and through reeds and perilously close to a cycle path where students whizz past without a care in the afternoon sun.
The sun has a different quality here compared to Auckland, it’s warm but instead of being sticky and humid it’s dry and devoid of moisture. The spring-time sun here has a gentle, warm hug from a friend. It’s a lot more gentle than the Australian sun, where the sun’s radiation feels like aggressive daggers hitting your body, turning it the colour of beetroot.
Sleepy, suburban and decidedly flat, Christchurch is the ideal summer weekend trip if you enjoy cycling but don’t enjoy trudging up hills. People are incredibly polite here to cyclists as well.
More than once I had people apologising to me as I rode past them on the footpath, when in reality it should be me on a bike apologising, given that there’s a dedicated bike path I could have been using (don’t ask me why sometimes I ride on the footpath and not the bike path, sometimes I just do random things).
I came to Christchurch for 24 hours only for a work related visit this week. Although somewhat mercifully my meetings were cancelled and the weather was superb, as though out of some kind of sylvan English poem from the 17th Century.
Everything about Christchurch seems to hint at its eponymous cousin – the Christchurch in Oxford, England. I went to Oxford before I went to Christchurch, NZ and the similarities between the two places are astounding. Both feature winding babbling brooks populated by water fowl. Both are flat cities nestled in a a valley and landlocked. Both are tremendously old-fashioned in a posh English kind of way.
Since the CHCH earthquake that pretty much flattened the central business district, it’s eerily quiet here and has a subtle atmosphere of sadness. Although there’s something else here, a really tangible sense of courage and defiance. People aren’t going to take the earthquake lying down. Ever resourceful locals just built temporary structures and public spaces instead. They opened their businesses again and kept marching on. I really love that about kiwis.
In a way though I feel a bit sad for Christchurch when I saw that it was in such a state of disrepair. I felt that as a Kiwi it should be a moral imperative that people are told to there and buy stuff from local shops to stimulate the economy.
Basically I’ve decided that I’ll come back here for a weekend with my boyfriend and buy up from local shops and eat in local restaurants.