Weekend Getaway – Home to Christchurch

I headed back to Christchurch for a very quick visit recently, here’s what I got up to:

*Disclaimer* — There are just a few photos in this post so it is rather long!

Friday

After arriving in the middle of the night, I woke up to find beautiful blue skies and no wind. Of course it was a bit cooler than Brisbane but it was going to be a gorgeous autumn day none the less.

After catching up with my sister-in-law and my gorgeous nieces, I decided to drive down the street where I use to live. Last time I saw this street it was a real shambles. It’s nice to see now that they have cleared a lot away and kept some of the existing trees. What they have done with the area now is actually quite lovely.

Avonside Drive
Avonside Drive as it is now. Our driveway is the one to the right of the middle lamp-post. Hard to believe there use to be a house either side of the driveway plus three houses up a long drive.

May 1st would have been my dad’s 91st birthday and this was the main reason I wanted to go home for the weekend. My dad passed away in 2008 and I like to go ‘visit’ him every time I’m home and this time I took a little something with me.

Tower of London Poppies were planted in 2014 for the 100th anniversary of WWI. These 888,246 poppies were planted in the moat of the Tower of London to commemorate each British life that was lost during that war. My father served in the New Zealand Navy for over 30 years, including in WWII and the Korean War. I wanted to pay tribute to him, so I purchased one of the poppies which would be sent to me once the installation finished in November 2014.

Luckily my poppy was beautifully delivered to me in April which meant I was able to take it home with me and ‘show’ my dad. The poppy is now safely ensconced in my mother’s china cabinet for safe keeping but not before I took a couple of photos of it at my dad’s memorial plaque.

Poppy
ANZAC Day was on 25th April. My brother & sister-in-law had taken their young daughters along to see dad after attending a dawn service. The girls put poppies up with their names written on them (so cute), mum had also put a poppy up  for dad.
Poppy
Bit of an arty shot (as you do)

After visiting dad I decided to head into the city to find some autumn foliage. Autumn is my favourite time of year and Christchurch was giving me a gorgeous day so I had hoped for some amazing colours throughout the city. It’s been about four & half years since the earthquakes began in Christchurch so the city is still very much in transition with the rebuilding happening, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t beauty to be found.

Christchurch
Pieces of public art add colour to the construction sites around the city
Christchurch
My favourite piece of public art in Christchurch. It is located on the back of the Theatre Royal in Gloucester Street and is done by NZ artist Owen Dippie, who was also featured in the SPECTRUM Street Art exhibition at the YMCA (http://www.owendippie.com/)
Christchurch
Victoria Square in autumn, one of my favourite places in the city at this time of year
Christchurch
You could be forgiven for thinking you were in the UK
Christchurch
Despite the constant construction around the city, there is still beauty to be found

Saturday

I woke to pretty much the same weather as Friday – little cool but beautiful blue skies and very little wind. I had decided to go on a bit of a road trip out of Christchurch and headed over towards Akaroa. I didn’t get as far as Akaroa because I have a bit of a dodgy leg and driving too much can aggravate it a little so I had to be careful. I got as far as Little River, which is about an hours drive from Christchurch and about 30 minutes around a very windy road from Akaroa.

First though, a pit stop to visit one of my favourite places in Canterbury – Tai Tapu. I first discovered this cute little place many years ago as a teenager. I often visit when I’m in Christchurch as it’s only about 40 minutes from the city and one of the most peaceful places I know of. A beautiful stone church and library are just over a little wooden footbridge from the rest area.

Tai Tapu Tai Tapu

Tai Tapu Tai Tapu

Just on the other side of the Little River township is a great spot for photos and I may have gone overboard on them just a little, but it really is pretty perfect.

Cooperstown
Told you.. pretty perfect right?
Cooperstown
You can’t beat a good photo in the rear vision mirror
Cooperstown
Of course when taking photos in New Zealand, you have to include a few sheep
Cooperstown
I pretty much love everything about this photo
Cooperstown
The Open Road. Don’t worry there wasn’t much traffic!

After a photo session with nature, I headed to a rest stop area on the shores of Lake Forsyth that I had noticed coming into Little River for a spot of lunch. I had a bit of ‘dinner and a show’ when three people turned up to take photos of themselves wearing backpacks, their dog racing around chasing ducks and what I think was a prison or community service clean up crew roaming around.

Little River
This wind was a little cooler here so I ended up eating lunch in the car – chicken, lettuce and cheese sandwiches that I made myself, for those of you playing at home
Little River
Bike/walking track beside the lake for the outdoorsy types

After lunch I headed back to my mum’s place. On the way I decided to go down Marine Parade in New Brighton and came across kite flying on New Brighton Beach.

New Brighton Beach
Kite flying over New Brighton Beach.
New Brighton Beach
Perfect end to a pretty perfect day

Sunday

My last day. After waking to overcast skies I had a quick breakfast, said goodbye to my mum, dropped in to see my gorgeous nieces before heading into the city to go and see SPECTRUM Street Art exhibition at the YMCA. It’s on till the 10th May 2015 so if you’re in the city and have a spare 30 minutes I recommend heading along.

I’ve always been fascinated by street art – you know the good stuff, not the random tagging people do. When I was in Melbourne over Christmas, a real highlight was visiting Hosier Lane to see the amazing street art there. So when I found out about SPECTRUM, I knew that I had to go… and I was not disappointed. Photos do not do this exhibit justice! There were a number of large rooms set up with all different types of artwork – these are just some of them.

SPECTRUM Street Art
Amazingness from French artist, Tilt. The room is half white and half graffiti. The half that is graffiti is ALL graffiti, right down to the cutlery on the table and the shoes in the corner. Just incredible
SPECTRUM Street Art
This was awesome! The room would go from light to dark and when it was dark, the paint would glow. It really looked like you were in space
SPECTRUM Street Art
In the last room was an amazing spectacle. There were 8 giant spray cans featuring the  SPECTRUM street artists bios and  on the back wall each artist had created a piece of art that was 6 foot high by 3 foot wide using shades of one colour of the spectrum each. Called Larger than Light, it was simply awe-inspiring.
SPECTRUM Street Art
The detail on these artworks was just incredible. This one was by NZ artist, Flox (http://flox.co.nz/category/custom-works/)

It was time to leave – sad face – so I headed to the airport, dropped off the car, checked in for my flight, had a bite to eat and then headed through Immigration to the departure lounge. I had hoped that the overcast skies of the morning had dissipated so that I would have clear skies for flying over the South Island, because lets face it, it’s a pretty stunning sight.

The cloud seemed to come and go but I needn’t have worried because once we got up in the air, the view was amazing. Little tip, if flying to Australia from Christchurch during the day, sit on the left side of the plane in a window seat, because you will have an amazing view if there is no cloud. FYI, I love photos from the plane window.

Flying
Heading up over the Waimakariri River and Canterbury Plains
Flying
Coming up to the Southern Alps, not much snow around yet
Flying
Not the best photo, but this gives an idea of what you can see on a clear day – none other than that majestic beauty Aoraki/Mount Cook – New Zealand’s largest mountain
Flying
From the plane window – the Southern Alps and West Coast
Flying
I love photos from the plane window – even the cloud formations are fascinating to me
Flying
And I’m back in Brisbane, just in time for sunset.

Going home never disappoints me, even it there is horrible weather it’s ok because I am home. Leaving is always hard and even if I do like getting back to my own little part of the world where all my stuff is, I miss Chch a lot. I miss my mum heaps and of course my family and friends there. Luckily I don’t live too far away and a quick weekend trip can be all I need to sustain me for a wee while.


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