Last day in Christchurch. Last day in New Zealand. It feels like I’ve been here forever, yet at the same time it feels like I just got here. I woke up at a decent hour this morning but stayed in the room a bit longer to video chat with my family back home. It’s so nice to have some reliable wifi and to have spare time to do whatever you want. When I finally left the hotel, I was pleased to see the sun poking through the clouds and the first blue sky in three days.
Since it was almost noon, I decided to have lunch at a souvlaki place that one of the local students told me about from the other night. It was actually a little food cart located inside the Container Mall, which is a shopping area built out of recycled shipping containers. Cool concept! Oh man, I am so glad I did because it was one of the best things I’ve had on this entire trip. The pita bread was fresh and perfectly toasted on the grill, wrapped around lettuce, tomato, tzatziki and homemade tomato sauce with big chunks of spiced chicken. It was so good, I went back for seconds before they closed!
After lunch, I needed to make the most of my last day in Christchurch so I walked to The Transitional Cathedral, which is a temporary cathedral built from cardboard and other recycled materials following the 2011 earthquake. This building is a perfect representation of the city’s resilience after the disaster nearly demolished their beautiful cathedral. Part of the original cathedral still stands in Cathedral Square, but there is much debate about whether to rebuild or tear down the remaining structure.
Next, I made the long walk down to the Botanical Gardens and walked around for a bit until I started to get too cold. Personally, I love botanical gardens because they are filled with so many different types of plants, they’re so peaceful and quiet, and most importantly they are usually free! Any veteran backpacker knows that green on a map is gold because green usually means FREE, and every big city has some sort of park or garden for those cheap days when you’re trying to pinch your pennies.
I spent the last of my cash on a smoothie and picked up some souvenirs (before I got my second souvlaki) and spent the rest of the afternoon watching Sense 8 in my hotel room. Time flies! Before I knew it, I had watched five episodes of the series, and now I’m addicted. Tomorrow I have a morning flight to Singapore for a few days before my next stop in the Philippines!
Last remarks. I am truly so grateful for everything that New Zealand has had to offer. I have met some of the best people and travel friends that I know I will have for life. The Kiwi Experience has been a gem in my trip and is a huge reason why New Zealand has quickly become one of my favorite countries, if not my favorite. I will definitely be back! The people that I have met in the last four weeks have made this trip everything I dreamed it would be! The sceneries around New Zealand are some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my entire life. I am honored to have been invited to learn more about the Maori culture, to have witnessed my first haka firsthand, as well as to have learned so much about New Zealand and the UK through other travelers. Travel has truly opened my eyes to see that the world is a much bigger place than just our backyards and we all could learn a thing or two from someone else.