Christchurch ended up being a sort of last minute booking for me. I hadn’t really thought out what I wanted to do there, and my main motivator for visiting was the tour bus that I was planning on taking from Christchurch to Queenstown (you can read about that further down this post). There isn’t quite as much to do in Christchurch as there is in other cities, thanks to the massive earthquake that devastated the city in 2011 and reduced around 80% of the downtown core to rubble. But, I was able to make my short time there worth it!
I arrived in the evening after a short flight from Wellington, and hopped in an Uber. The driver told me about a wonderful complex called Little High Eatery that features miniature restaurants of various cuisines and a common seating area. It was a 30 minute walk from my hostel, Dorset House, so after my dinner I ended up more or less going right to bed.
Little High Eatery had a cool vibe to it, and a fun variety of cuisines!
The next morning, I went for a run around the park next to the hostel, then set out to visit the nearby town of Sumner, recommended to me by the hostel staff. Over there I was able to do part of a really nice hike along the eastern coast of New Zealand called Taylors Mistake. It featured some amazing views of both the water and the cliffs bordering it, and was quite physically challenging to boot, thanks to the steep changes in altitude!
Taylors Mistake offered a beautiful view of the town of Sumner and the surrounding ocean
After my hike, I grabbed a quick bite to eat along the beach and bussed back into Christchurch. On my walk back to the hostel, I ended up passing the Canterbury Museum. It listed free entry, so I decided to pop inside. It featured lots of information on the Maori tribes that lived in New Zealand before the Europeans first arrived, as well as some of the now-extinct creatures that also made the land their home. One such creature was the moa, a massive flightless bird that was hunted down very successfully by the Maori people due to their gentle and relatively fearless nature.
Some models showed off how the Maori people would hunt down moa, until they went extinct
In the evening, I headed back to the hostel. There I met Perine, a girl visiting from France. We had some great conversation (much of it in French as a way of practice for me!), and we grabbed a bite at Little High Eatery together. After we got back, I called it an early night because the tour bus to Queenstown was scheduled to leave at 7:30am the next morning, and the walk to the station was half an hour!
Right on schedule the next morning, the bus left from the Christchurch bus exchange, en route to Queenstown! Of course, the reason I took this bus was not just as a means of getting from Point A to Point B. This tour bus had several stops scheduled along the way for photos, as well as a stop for lunch in Mount Cook National Park. The first stop on the tour was The Church of the Good Shepherd, on the banks of Lake Tekapo.
The shores of Lake Tekapo were absolutely picturesque, with the snow-capped mountains rising up in the distance
The Church of the Good Shepherd is a multi-faith church right along the edge of Lake Tekapo, offering a gorgeous view out the window behind the cross (as it was originally built as a Christian place of worship). We spent about 15 minutes at this lake before moving on to Lake Pukaki - far too short a time in my opinion. I barely even had time to take in the view!
Lake Pukaki was a lot larger, and a little bit more striking
Lake Pukaki is actually a man-made lake, but that doesn’t take away from it’s beauty. Being much larger than Lake Tekapo, it stretched way off into the distance, forcing us to take a particularly long route along its borders to get around it and move forward with the tour. We spent an even shorter amount of time at this lake - a mere 10 minutes!
Our third and longest stop was that meant for lunch, at a hotel in Mount Cook National Park. The mountains reached up into the sky all around the valley, and I took a wonderful hike along a dirt path during our hour and a half long break to drink in the view - after a quick bite to eat, of course!
Although Mount Cook itself was obscured by some cloud, the other mountains of Mount Cook National Park were spectacular
The bus trip ended up being around 10 hours long, giving me plenty of time to catch up on my blog posts! We finally pulled into Queenstown at around 6:30pm, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. I was all set to spend some quality time in New Zealand’s famous winter and extreme sport town!
Want more? Check out an overview of my New Zealand trip here!