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Published: April 18th 2022
All good things come to an end,or so a famous saying goes.And the 50th Anniversary Tour of the Top of the South Island is no different.
We awoke to a rather overcast day in Christchurch with a cool autumnal feel about the weather.
However before we arose to get the day underway our minds went to our next holiday in 2024 and hopefully a resurrection of the postponed BBA of 2020 when we had planned to travel again to Europe taking in islands of the Mediterranean,mainland Europe and Great Britain and Ireland.Now that COVID around the world seems to be becoming an illness that if you catch it, you mostly get over it relatively quickly,and you can protect yourself by being vaccinated and as countries open their borders to traveller's that we might just be able to achieve this in 12 months time.
The stay at the Quest,Cathedral Tram Junction had been a restful one,once we closed the only window in the room and got rid of the 'shopping mall' type music that had threatened to go all night and spoil what turned out to be a good nights sleep.
We decided to take up the offer
from our taxi driver from the rail station last night of what amounted to an Uber ride to the airport at a fare discounted from what you would pay using a taxi.So once we dropped our suitcases to be held at the reception desk for the hotel we phoned 'our driver' and asked if he could be at the Quest at midday to take us to the airport.
With that out of the way we headed off to find somewhere for a late breakfast/brunch which would see us home to Tauranga by mid afternoon.
Things had changed at the Cathedral since we were in the city 3 weeks ago and the next stage had been reached with the crossing roof being removed.This was the start of making it safe to go inside the building and pushing on with interior restoration.
We started along Colombo Street, towards the Port Hills in the far distance,which to us had always been the feature road in the garden city of Christchurch.Most,if not all,of the buildings damaged in Colombo Street during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes,had now been replaced or reconstructed,but we didn't find anywhere to satisfy our growing hunger.
we came across where High Street runs off Colombo Street and where a small public park has created a meeting place for homeless people.And this morning this little triangle of area had around a dozen homeless people with their belongings in shopping trundlers had gathered.One of them appeared to be in an altercation with a fellow person with loud shouting making it obvious these two people weren't getting on.As the one who appeared to be the agressor danced around beating his bare chest,the other person removed himself and his shopping trundler to the other side of the road in Colombo Street.
We passed by as quickly as we could without running or bringing attention to ourselves and as we reached about 20metres further on Colombo Street we heard the sound of crashing and breaking glass.Turning around without stopping we noticed the agressive person had crossed Colombo Street and threw his shopping trundler at the person who had left the larger group and it appeared to have broken a window in the KFC restaurant.
People came out from the adjacent shops,took a look at what had happened,and went back inside the shops again without seemingly ringing the police or
keeping an eye on the situation from a safe distance.
We weren't hanging around and we carried on Colombo Street and then turned into Lichfield Street looking for the Riverside Market where we hoped we could get our late breakfast/brunch.
As it turned out Christchurch Police Station was on Lichfield Street and there was a police car parked outside.I went over to the car as I thought I should report what we had heard and seen in Colombo Street a few minutes before and so I tapped on the window as I could see a couple of police personnel inside the car.
The window came down and I explained the situation that we had just seen.Both of the police personnel seemed rather nonchalant,thanked me for my report and wound the window back up.
We decided we could do no more and after spending a few minutes on the opposite side of the road admiring a large mural depicting buildings that had been in the area before the earthquakes and not noticing the police car pulling away from where it was parked,we went on into the Riverside Market building.
There were some choices we could have
put together to satisfy our hunger but decided this would have meant buying from 3 or 4 different stalls.
This wasn't what we wanted to do and so we walked a little further along to Oxford Street and found exactly what we wanted,bacon and eggs with toast and a coffee and all at a discounted price.
Now is it at this point I feel I need to make a personal comment about what I sadly see about Christchurch,and many other large population centres in New Zealand today including our home city of Tauranga.
The downtown areas which used to be bustling with people going about their shopping and business people doing what they do in the heart of our cities have now turned into 'ghost towns' where the major shopping businesses have left the downtown areas and moved to newly built suburban malls where everything is undercover and parking is free.The space has been taken up by homeless people who concregate and find shelter in doorways or whatever structure they can find and discourage shoppers because of their anti social behaviour from returning enmass.
Christchurch,to me anyway,always had a thriving and busy look about its downtown
area and although this was ruined by the damage caused by the twin earthquakes over 11/12 years ago it was probably heading for a change to suburban mall shopping anyway.The reconstruction in Christchurch has been completed in a fashionable way and looked enticing with its parks and reserves close to the city centre enhancing what made it seem like the city of old that I once knew.
I do hope that at some time soon our 'city fathers' will get the remedy to return the soul of a city to its rightful place,the centre of the city.
With our stomachs full we walked back to the Quest Hotel and found that our 'Uber' driver had arrived early for us and so we loaded our suitcases and backbacks into a different car than the one he drove yesterday and we were off to make the connection with our Air NZ flight home to Tauranga.
We learnt a whole lot more about our Fijian Indian driver on the way to the airport and because of the trials and tribulations he had gone through to settle his family in New Zealand 10 or so years ago we were pleased we
had helped him a little by taking and paying for his ride to the airport than a taxi where some of that fare would have ended up in the taxi company's pocket.
Our flight home was smooth and it seemed like before we knew it we were landing in Tauranga and exiting the aeroplane towards the terminal building to pick up our suitcases in 26C heat ! Not bad for a mid autumn day in our home city of Tauranga.
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