Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Christchurch - in the City

Walking in the inner city-

One afternoon, while the parents rested
we drove into the city
and parked on the edge
of Hagley Park beside the Avon River

In my childhood
The Canterbury Museum above
was visited every school holidays.
And our first stop
was always the Egyptian mummy
with heel bone exposed...

At the corner of the old
University of Canterbury campus
is found this beautiful lecture hall
where I once sat for many hours
scribbling copious notes
on the English Language

a glimpse through two of the old buildings
reveals the old uni courtyard
now a part of the bustling Art's Centre

Many charming old ladies
once lined Christchurch streets.
Unfortunately, I noticed many
had been replaced with apartment blocks
and business towers

Once the cafeteria and common rooms
of the university this building
now houses the Duck's Deluxe,
a popular restaurant

Other University buildings are used for
the display of arts and crafts,
a cosy little cinema and markets,
and also house many cafes
which spill onto the street

Which was a perfect setting
for my sister and I to pause
in the Autumn afternoon sunlight
after visiting the contemporary art gallery
Te Puna o Waiwhetu
- meaning wellspring + river tributary of the Avon
and also starry sky reflected in water,
and have a leisurely Earl Grey tea

gaze at the splendid almost bare trees

and listen to a large extended family
of Maori singers
busking on the pavement



  1. Beautiful...beautiful, i MUST visit here...

  2. Priya
    have you been back to Au since your university days?

  3. How exciting to see a heel bone exposed!..I think I would like Christchurch looking at the old buildings ...but only in summer!

    xxx Mona

  4. The architecture is stunning! I hope they don't change the scenery too much. It looks like you had lovely weather the whole time too!

  5. Had not it been for your commentary I would have thought that the photos had been taken in some British town. It's remarkable how the architecture is so similar, which is logical given that New Zealand used to be a British colony. Many thanks for such a wonderful tour.

    Greetings from London.

  6. Mr C
    If you take a look at the post called Hagley park I have included a little about the founding fathers' vision.
    Happy Days

  7. Tulsa
    Yes although it was cool it was mostly sunny.
    I don't think these old stone buildings will ever go but the wooden houses have been disappearing...
    Happy Days

  8. Mona
    It was a very exciting thing for a child. We used to race up the large flight of stairs...It wasn't there last time I went...But they do have a whale skeleton!
    Yes if you ever go choose the month of Feb. It is the most reliably warm.
    Happy Days

  9. Lovely walk! Lovely architecture! And lovely sister, too!

  10. Willow,
    thank you, thank you, thank you...
    Happy Days

  11. It's so beautiful! In the U.S. when we use the term "inner city" that's usually a euphemism for a sketchy part of town. This inner city is sparkling and gorgeous.

    The light is so autumnal in your pictures - so incredible to gaze into a different season from right here in the middle of spring.

    As always thank you so much!

  12. You photos are beautiful and remind me of the lack of travel in my life. I need to purchase a plane ticket to somewhere!

  13. It looks like a photojournal of a perfect day. Tea with a sister! Not having any sisters-of-birth, I keep acquiring soul sisters to make up for the lack. Sitting together with one of them, talking over tea or chai or a frou-frou coffee is simply the best. (And those developers should be ashamed of demolishing Victorian ladies!)

  14. Thank you so much for the tours, I strolled around your blog a little bit. I have always wanted to visit New Zealand. I have heard it called, a microcosm of the world.

  15. This is another reason for blogging; travel without the expense and the fuss. Thank you for the lovely pictures.

  16. Hi there Rosarai,
    Yes another benefit of blogging vicarious travel...especially to the cold climes...like NZ in Autumn and winter...
    Happy Days

  17. Butternut Squash,
    welcome to my pages,
    I hope you visit NZ one day, but go in summer...It is a small country with small population but great geographical diversity and beauty.
    Happy Days

  18. Meri,
    we did have a nice few days together.
    What may I ask is frou-frou coffee - sounds like something poodles would like...

    Happy Days

  19. Lorenzo,
    hello there,
    why you just must...
    start to plan a trip now - do all the research on line ...then make it happen...

    Those of us down here in the Antipodies are inveterate travellers, may be something to do with being so far from every where else. I am often surprised by how untravelled many Americans are - and you can't blame it on the size of the country because when you superimpose Au on the USA Australia is actually bigger...

    Armchair travel is great and novels wonderful but to actually stand with your hands on the stones that King Herod's men built his castle on the Dead Sea from or to touch the ancient walls of Jerusalem, to hear the gong of the brass bell in Nara is quite another thing.
    Happy Days

  20. Reya, hi there,
    that's interesting I didn't think of that connotation.
    The city is so spread and sprawling we just call the centre the inner city and also our cities don't seem to have quite that same seedy underworld life. Well maybe it's there in Sydney and Melbourne but little ol' CHCH I don't think so...It doesn't have that high density inner city life. The pop is only 350,000.
    I'm glad you enjoyed the inner city of CHCH

    Happy Days

  21. Thank you for this tour of Christchurch. I've always thought I'd like to visit there some day. This post makes a visit there seem even more appealing. Is it as English as it looks in these photos?

  22. I enjoyed looking at your photos. I agree, it looks like it could be England, or even the US. In college or university towns, the architecture looks grand and fosters great thoughts. The view through the buildings into the courtyard particularly looks like Dartmouth or Harvard. Thank you for the armchair journey!

  23. Dan

    You really should visit NZ and AU in your retirement - but allow yourself enough time. While NZ is small it had a huge diversity of geography and topography, and natural wonders. Au on the other hand is massive - bigger than the US, but most of the pop lives on the Eastern - sthn seaboard. We had a friend visit from the Mid West - he only allowed himself a week not understanding the great distances between cities and places of interest! Most of his time was spent in the air.

    CHCH is very English in layout and city centre with vast sprawling suburbs even tho' the pop is only 350,000. Dunedin has a more Scottish feel to it, Wellington a little like SF because of the timber construction on the hilly earthquake prone terrain, and Auckland a big cosmopolitan modern city.
    The Bay of Islands, Coromandel Peninsula and North Auckland areas are very attractive and warmer!
    Happy Days

  24. Hey Jennifer -
    I have missed your warm dialogue.

    Yes I can imagine that a lot of the older established universities have the same mood and feel. I love the old buildings and it is great that they are being put to such a happy community use - and very popular with tourists.
    Happy Days

  25. Well that was a trip down memory lane. All those images soaked into my brain as easily as an old familiar glove onto a ready hand - Anyone who grew up in Christchurch will remember the old university buildings and the Canterbury Museum.

    It is a good thing that the older buildings get, the less likely it becomes (especially if they obtain a heritage listing) that they will be torn down - thus preserving and ensuring for us expatrite Cantabrians that a certain sense of place can always be found on our return visits.

  26. Alden,
    It is an odd feeling going back to your hometown and accomodating all the feelings and emotions that are tied to the past.
    I was saddened to see the old houses around the Uni campus missing and replaced by ugly apartments. One of the gallery exhibitions featured Miles Warren's buildings and that was also an interesting flashback.
    I'm sure those old stone buildings will remain a part of the CHCH character forever.
    I did a teaching section at the Museum - did you? I love that place and the gardens too.
    Happy Days

  27. Thanks for this lovely post Delwyn!

    I have been to CHCH but very fleetingly on route to Wellington. As we leave soon, I am lookign at all the wonderful places to visit when we get the chance to do some traveling. I think I would like to do CHCH justice.

    Coming from Scotland, I am looking forward to a more hilly place to remind me of my home home....

  28. Yvonne,
    hello to you,
    I will write you a note,
    Happy Days

  29. Hi Delwyn,

    Amazing place, CHCH, so English though so far away. Armchair travelling has of course its limits, while touching the real stones of something is different, as you say, not to mention the smells, nature, the sounds and the people.

    The US are smaller than AU but the inhabitable land is much larger there, it seems to me. My impression is that the American people feel they are in a world which is more or less complete, living like in a sort of satisfied insularity. Interesting how instead you people from down under feel motivated to travel and discover the rest of the world.

    My piano teacher was Australian of Irish descent, from Perth. She was a real genius in my opinion. I adored her. When, much to my consternation, she was about to return back to AU she asked me to please give her a few books on musicians I possessed that she liked (Busoni, Rachmaninov etc.). It was 1971 I think. Italy was then, and still is, at the outskirts of the real action, but she felt she was going back to a place a bit away from the rest of the world.

    I remember this exerted on me a tremendous charm.

    Well, the world was less connected at that time. Now we are in the era of communication. Blogs are one example of this revolution.

    Thanks for the trip, Delwyn!

  30. Manof Roma,
    yes I think you are right - in the last 40 odd years the world has shrunk a lot. When we moved from NZ to AU we felt like another world had opened up, and there certainly was more cultural diversity here - and educational opportunities.
    Now I notice that with a more open immigration policy in NZ it has become much more cosmopolitan. CHCH has a large Asian population attracted by the university and relaxed Immigration policy. Au is tougher in that regard, but has always had a richly diverse population.

    NZ in the 60s and 70s did really feel very cut off from the world and most young graduates headed to the UK for their OE (overseas experience) creating a brain drain in NZ. This phenomena is still prevalent in both NZ and AU today - wages are so much higher in Europe and new experiences beckon.

    Thanks for the chat
    Happy Days


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