Re:Start container mall

The Re:START container mall was formed following the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake to bring business and people back into the city centre.

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Re:START

This outdoor mall consisting of temporary buildings made from colourful shipping containers is located on the Cashell Street part of what was City Mall.

City Mall was an outdoor pedestrian mall, which opened following the closure of parts of Cashell and High Street to vehicle traffic in 1982. City Mall was badly damaged during the Christchurch earthquakes.

The Re:START mall opened in October 2011 with 27 businesses and now has over 50 businesses today. It is open Monday to Friday 10 am to 5:30 pm. Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays 10 am – 5 pm.

At the end of the mall, on the corner of Cashell and Columbo streets, anchoring the complex is Ballantynes. Established is 1854, Ballantynes is New Zealand’s first department store and was one of the first major retailers to reopen in the city centre following the earthquake.

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Re:START

Re:START

Cardboard Cathedral

The ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral, also known as the Cardboard Cathedral, is the temporary cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.

ChristChurch Transitional Cathederal

ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral

The Transitional Cathedral, which is located at 234 Hereford Street, at the southern end of Latimer Square, opened in August 2013 after the original ChristChurch Cathedral was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake.

It is open daily from 9 am. During the summer months (November to March) the Cathedral will close at 7 pm, unless there is a later evening service. In the winter months the Cathedral will close at 5 pm or following a later evening service.

Latimer Square looking towards the Cathedral

Latimer Square looking towards the Cathedral

The Cathedral was designed pro bono by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. It is built using timber, steel and recycled cardboard tubes.

The A-frame roof consists of 86 cardboard tubes. The roof is covered with translucent corrugated polycarbonate panels. There are two inch gaps between each tube, which allows light to flow through the translucent roof.

Ban was approached to design the Cathedral after the Diocese saw photographs of previous works. Ban had designed a cardboard tube cathedral in Japan for the Takatori Catholic Church following the 1995 Great Hanshin (Kobe) earthquake. It was deconstructed in 2006 and donated to the Taomi Village in Taiwan, which suffered an earthquake in 1999.

ChristChurch Transitional Cathderal

ChristChurch Transitional Cathderal

Located just a few blocks from the Transitional Cathedral is the ruins of the original ChristChurch Cathedral and Cathedral Square. This Cathedral was constructed between 1864 and 1904.

The Anglican Church has decided to demolish the Cathedral and replace it with a new Cathedral. This decision has caused some controversy.

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ChristChurch Cathedral ruins, July 2015

ChristChurch Cathedral ruins, July 2015

Christchurch Rebuild Tour

Christchurch Rebuild Tour, is a guided bus tour of Christchurch city’s progress to rebuild following the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

Site of recently demolished police station

Site of recently demolished police station

At 4:35 am on Saturday 4th September 2010 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the Canterbury region. The epicentre of the quake was located 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Christchurch, near Darfield. The earthquake caused power cuts and widespread damage particularly to Christchurch. There were no deaths as a result of the earthquake, but  one person died of a heart attack.

Tragically on Tuesday 22 February 2011 at 12:51 pm a 6.3 earthquake struck. This quake was centred 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) west of Lyttelton and 10 kilometres (6 miles) south-east of Christchurch city centre. 185 people from more than 20 countries were killed, making it the second deadliest natural disaster in New Zealand history.

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The tour, which departs from outside the Canterbury Museum (Rolleston Ave) daily at 11:00 am, lasts approximately 90 minutes. There is a driver and onboard guide from the Canterbury Museum that does an informative commentary accompanied by video and photographs. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (0800 500 929) or from the i-SITE Visitor Centre, next to the Museum.

No tour is exactly the same as where the bus travels depends on traffic conditions and works that do. The bus may make stops were passengers can disembark with the guide.

The Rebuild Tour bus

The Rebuild Tour bus

Our tour made two stops. The first stop was at the site of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. It was the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Christchurch. The buildings were designed by architect Francis Petre and completed in 1905. The Cathedral closed following the September earthquake. The parish moved St Mary’s Pro Cathedral (373 Manchester Street).

During the February earthquake the two bells towers at the front of the building collapsed along with much of the front façade. The dome, which had received major cracking was later removed, and the rear of the Cathedral was demolished. Also during the February quake the statue of Virgin Mary located in the north tower rotated 180 degrees to look out the window. The statue became a symbol of survival following quake.

In May this year it was announced the diocese has plans to attempt to preserve the nave as part of a rebuild.

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Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

The next stop was at the 185 Empty White Chairs installation on the site of the former St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church on the corner of Madras and Cashel streets.

The memorial designed by artist Pete Majendie was previously located on the site of the former Oxford Terrace Baptist Church. Each white painted chair represents one of the lives lost in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The installation sits on 185 square metres of ready made lawn.

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185 White Chairs

185 White Empty Chairs

Christchurch Gondola

Christchurch Gondola, is a cable car that offers 360 degree views of Christchurch region.

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Christchurch Gondola, which is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, is approximately 15 minutes drive from Christchurch central. The base is located at 10 Bridle Path Road, Heathcote Valley. There is plenty of parking available.

Alternatively they offer a return shuttle van from outside Canterbury Museum (Rolleston Ave) for $10 adult and $5 child (5-15 years). The van departs museum at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm. Shuttle returns from the Gondola at 10:05 am, 11:05 am, 12:35 pm, 1:35 pm, 2:35 pm, 3:35 pm and 4.35 pm.

The cable spans 862 metres to the top of Mt. Cavendish. The journey takes approximately 10 minutes offering views of Christchurch city, Canterbury plains, the Southern Alps and the Banks Peninsula Hills. A lookout deck at the top also offers views of Lyttelton township, port and harbour.

Also at the summit there is Red Rock Café, a gift shop and the Time Tunnel, an automated ride that takes visitors on a journey from 12 million years ago, passing through a volcano, native forest, a voyage onboard a ship to the early settlements of Christchurch.

Christchurch city

Christchurch city

Lyttelton township, harbour and port

Lyttelton township, harbour and port

Christchurch Gondola

Christchurch Gondola

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch is a vessel based whale watching company that operates off the coast of Kaikoura.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura

The Whale Watch office is located at the Railway Station (Whaleway Station Road off State Highway 1 or Beach Road). The Coastal Pacific train from Picton to Christchurch stops here daily between October and May.

Whale Watch, was formed in 1987 and is owned and operated by Ngāti Kuri, which is a Māori sub tribe of the larger Ngāi Tahu tribe.

Check in times for tours are 7:15 am, 10 am and 12:45 pm. There is an additional tour offered at 3:30 pm from November to March. They operate every day except Christmas Day but tours may be cancelled due to unsuitable weather conditions.

The tour on the water is approximately two and half hours, but guests should allow up to three and half hours, which includes check-in, a safety briefing, and transport by bus to the boat.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura

There is an upstairs outdoor viewing deck and viewing decks on the left and right side on the boat. The skipper will position the boat side on to the whale and crew will advise, which side of the boat to be on. They also give a warning when the whale is about to dive so that everyone has the opportunity to get that perfect whale tail shot.

One crew member will provide a live commentary throughout and present photos and animations of the wildlife seen on a screen in the cabin while the boat is travelling.

They have a 95% success rate at finding whales. If a tour does not see a whale they will refund 80% of the fare. The day we went we had five whale sightings – one was a repeat, so that was four sperm whales spotted. The staff have named the whales, with names like Big Nick and Little Nick (named due to the nicks in their tails).

Crew member tracking whale movements

Crew member tracking whale movements

There was a humpback whale that had been spotted in the area previously that some passengers briefly saw before it dived down but staff were not successful in locating it again.

We also saw New Zealand fur seals, dolphins, albatross and other bird life.

If you get motion sickness I would recommend wearing motion sickness pressure point bands or taking motion sickness tablets. Each tour is graded with a seasickness warning.

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Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale Watch Kaikoura

 

Northern Explorer to Wellington

The Northern Explorer is a long distance scenic tourist train that runs from Auckland to Wellington.

Northern Explorer at Hamilton

Northern Explorer at Hamilton

The train travels 681 kilometres (423 miles) from Auckland to Wellington via the North Island Main Trunk.

The Northern Explorer departs on Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 7:50 am from Britomart Transport Centre and Papakura at 8:40 am. The train stops at Hamilton, Otorohanga, National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston North and Paraparaumu before a scheduled arrival in Wellington at 6:25 pm that evening.

If departing Britomart passengers check in at the Kiwi Rail Scenic Counter at the ground (street) level of Britomart Transport Centre. The train normally departs platform 4 at Britomart. After boarding passes are issued passengers can check their luggage in with staff at the rear of the train.

Check in at the Kiwi Rail Scenic counter, Britomart Transport Centre

Check in at the Kiwi Rail Scenic counter, Britomart Transport Centre

The train has 3 passenger cars A, B, D. The C car is a café car serving meals, snacks and beverages. KiwiRail Scenic Journeys currently serves prepackaged meals from catering company Wishbone. Staff can heat up meals. The meals are reasonably priced but as it is a full day trip it would be advisable for passengers to bring some of their own food, particularly if travelling with children.

Speaking of children the café also sells activity packs that include playing cards, colouring-in, origami and other activities to keep them occupied and entertained.

The first car is an open viewing car, offering the best opportunity for photos and a breath of fresh air.

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Cafe car, Northern Explorer

Cafe car, Northern Explorer

View from outdoor viewing car

View from outdoor viewing car

There is an excellent automatic onboard commentary, which plays at certain points of the journey. Headphones, which plug into a seat jack are provided. The commentary is provided in English and Mandarin.

The views offered on the Northern Explorer are a plenty, including green lush farmland, bush and native forest, the mighty Waikato River, small picturesque country towns, the National Park and its snow capped mountains, and rocky coasts.

An engineering marvel is the Raurimu Spiral, near National Park, that was built in 1898. The Spiral allows the train to climb the 132 metre height difference between the Whanganui River and the Volcanic Plateau. The train travels 6.8 kilometres in a spiral, a distance that would only be 2 kilometres long if travelled in a straight line.

View of Waikato River, just past the township of Taupiri

View of Waikato River, just past the township of Taupiri

National Park

National Park

South Rangitikei Viaduct

South Rangitikei Viaduct

Sun setting as the train approaches Palmerston North

Sun setting as the train approaches Palmerston North

Wellington Railway Station

Wellington Railway Station

The train returns from Wellington on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Departure from Wellington is 7:55 am; arrival time in Auckland 6:50 pm.

The Northern Explorer is an excellent way to see this country at a slower and more relaxed pace. The train trip from Auckland to Wellington is longer and more expensive than other forms of transport but the journey is the attraction, and one well worth making.

 

Disclaimer: My employer paid for my travel on the Northern Explorer. Neither my employer or KiwiRail Scenic Journeys are affiliated with this blog post. Opinions are my own.