As you will hear many times as you explore Christchurch, it is a city in transition. Years after being shaken to its core by a major earthquake, Christchurch is rebuilding slowly but surely. As the city finds its footing, there is still plenty to do and see (as long as you’re cool with dealing with a whole lot of construction.) Here is a list of my favorite free activities in Christchurch.
The Christchurch Farmers Market happens every Saturday morning from 9:00am to 1:00pm. If you know me, then you know I love me some farmers’ markets. So even though Saturday morning was grey and rainy, I didn’t let that deter me from heading across town to check out the market for myself. (Nothing will stand between me and fresh pastries and artisanal juices. Not even rain, wind and an hour-long walk at 8:00 in the morning.)
As travelers, we often think about how we can help out and improve things in the countries we visit through volunteering and sustainable, responsible travel. Something we tend to hear less about, however, is how to help with issues happening back home while we are traveling or living abroad. Whether they are natural disasters, political or social upheavals, or a million other things, turmoil back home still effects us even when we’re on the other side of the world. Some people will say that you should just ignore everything and not let it ruin your good time, but most of us want to do what we can to aid those back home in times of need. So I’ve made a short, simple list of things you can do today to provide support to your home city or country when needed. (This was of course brought on by the current dumpster fire that is the United States, but these tips are all applicable to any country or situation.)
Being a budget traveler in an expensive(-ish) country like New Zealand can be difficult. You want to be able to go out and do cool stuff, but you also need to be able to eat. Luckily there are places offering some fun things to do that fit into the budget of us cheapies. Rotorua, luckily for me, falls into this category. So here are five free, fun things to do should you ever find yourself in Rotovegas.
If you’re a budget backpacker planning a long-term trip, you’ve no doubt come across the idea of working for accommodation in hostels. You work for a couple of hours a day and in exchange don’t have to pay for your bed. It’s truly a great trade off: you get a bed for a little bit of work and still have plenty of time to explore the place you’re staying in (or find a part time job to help save up some more cash.) But working for accommodation isn’t just some bippity-boppity-free-bed situation. So here are some things you need to know before you sign up:
If you talk to travelers in New Zealand about Rotorua, the first thing you hear is, “eww gross, that place smells,” followed by, “pretty though, I suppose.” But Rotorua is more than just rotten egg smells and steam leaking out of the ground. There is also a rich and lively Maori population living here, and at Whakarewarewa Village they invite you into their home to experience their lives for yourself.
The families of Whakarewarewa village have been taking tourists on tours of the geothermal area around Rotorua since the early 1800s when Europeans began arriving to New Zealand. Those living in the village today keep this tradition alive by opening their doors daily to tourists, who are invited in to view performances, eat food and enjoy the geothermal happenings all around. After living in Rotorua for nearly 6 months, I finally got the chance to go and experience the village myself.
Mt. Ngongotaha, Rotorua, New Zealand
A nice 2 and a half hour hike up a small mountain. One half of the trail is a nature hike through the forest and the other half is a scenic walk down a paved road, which has lots of great views of the lake and the city of Rotorua. You can start at either end, though I prefer to do the nature walk first. With the nature side of the walk, you can choose to go straight to the top on the Jubilee Track, or around in a loop on the Nature Track. The Jubilee Track runs through the Nature Track so you could do half of the nature loop and then turn onto the Jubilee Track and go up to the top.
Rotorua has a number of weekly markets to enjoy while you’re in the city, so make sure to leave yourself time to stop by at least one while you’re here. Below is some information about the regular markets (as well as some specials ones that happen throughout the year) to help you decide which ones to put on your schedule.
To read the tl;dr version of my time at R&V click here
As November slipped into December, I realized that I still had no plans for New Years. Every city in New Zealand has it’s own celebrations, usually fireworks over some body of water. I’ve seen plenty of fireworks in my life, though, and wanted to do something a bit different this year. So after a little research I found a festival called Rhythm and Vines that happens over New Years every year in a vineyard in Gisborne. It has the added bonus of being the first place in the world to see the sunrise of the New Year (allegedly.) What more could I want?
To ring in the new year this year, I decided to go to Gisborne for the Rhythm and Vines festival. I’ll have a more in depth post about my experience there coming soon, but for now I just wanted to give you a quick run down of what it is and how to do it yourself in case you don’t care to read my rambling later.