In that hectic week prior to Christmas, and having just arrived home from Japan. I landed a writing assignment for Silver Kris (Singapore Airlines Inflight Magazine). The brief was 1600 words highlighting Christchurch visitor attractions. SA make daily flights to and from Christchurch. The inspiration for the story was Lonely Planet including Christchurch in the Top 10 cities to visit in 2013. It was pleasing that SA, an airline with an enviable reputation, was taking an interest in us when most others, including Tourism New Zealand, appear to have dismissed Christchurch just when we needed a leg up.
Researching the story, I was amazed at how much we have. An abundance of great, sometimes quirky, cafes and bars have popped up. And there are excellent venues for that special evening dining experience. One hotel manager I interviewed claimed most attractions that were in full swing prior to the quakes are still there. That is true – apart from the trams which will likely be back on track during this year.
One of the best venues to ensure a Christchurch normality is the Botanic Gardens. I popped down yesterday and took a circuit on the excellent Caterpillar Tour. What a beautiful summer day it was. I was particularly keen to photograph one of the Botanic Garden’s crimson southern rata still in flower. The tree was found beside the river, the latter bustling with hire canoes vying for space with the well-patronised Punting on the Avon craft. (The punts look cute with their summer sun umbrellas.)
I concluded the afternoon with an hour or so at the Scott’s last expedition at Canterbury Museum. Running till June 30, it is an excellent event telling a brave, albeit poignant, story of great adventure that is still gripping, perhaps more so, a century after the event. The touring exhibition was assembled in London. Canterbury Museum will be its only New Zealand venue.
Christchurch has been the departure point for Antarctic exploration since early last century. A concluding feature of the exhibition is a wall-sized photo of Scott’s statue as it was, standing above the tram tracks on Worcester Boulevard bridge. Lying beneath the photo is the broken stone statue, sculptured by his widow, Kathleen Scott. Presently it is in two pieces, as it ended up following its collapse on February 22, 2011. But I suspect it will not be too difficult to put it back together and return it to the former site.
Scott’s last expedition is not to be missed. Also look out for the Canterbury Earthquake exhibition presently being assembled in a Re-start Mall venue. It will open during February.
2013 promises to be the year Christchurch rises, hopefully in style, from the rubble. It will be a welcome change following two years of survival mode.