NZ Adventure Chapter 6: Diving into Paintings and Feeding Lemurs
The thing about real life is that the transitions between the “chapters” aren’t always smooth. Sometimes you get consumable chunks of time that seem to have a beginning, middle, and end- like a proper story-but then sometimes it feels like you’ve gotten whiplash and your life has turned into one those one-second-a-day videos where one moment snaps into another before your brain can register what’s happening. Everything seems to become both incredibly mediocre and important at the same time. As hard as you try, you can’t seem to get your dumb brain to grasp how weeks have gone by since you stared, slightly tipsy and thus even more lovingly than usual, at an orange-purple sunset in the hills of a place far from home.
So I’m going to skip ahead a little bit. Past my five days of continuing to wander aimlessly around Auckland while trying not to go broke, past making friends on the bus to a Fall Out Boy concert in the city, past missing my flight because I suck at waking up before 7am, and straight to my time in Christchurch.
I arrived in Christchurch (after waiting four hours at the Auckland airport after missing my first flight) and made my way to my hostel- Around the World Backpackers. As far as hostels go, it was luxurious. I mean, plugs next to every bed (even the top bunks had ones higher up on the wall), reading lights for every bed, unlimited Wi-Fi that actually works, and the ability to read while sitting in a hammock- what more could you ask for?
After checking in at the hostel I went in search of lunch and a decently priced drink. I ended up getting a glass of wine and a bowl of guacamole at a place on New Regent Street, which is perhaps one of the most colorful, pastel-filled streets in Christchurch. The guacamole and wine put me in such a perfect state of exhausted happiness that I decided to keep wandering around.
From there, I started wandering around while attempting to stay in the vicinity of my hostel and getting lost in the process. I ended up at the Christchurch Art Gallery, where some sort of event involving foreign exchange students and Maori dancers was happening. In I went (since it was free and why not, I was lost anyway) and the first room I came across was a room filled with abstract yellow paintings. I can’t tell you why for sure, but something about the exhibit captured my attention completely. One painting in particular gave me the strong urge to jump into it like a cartoon character and swim endlessly in its pools of golden, happy, light.
…okay, it’s possible I was a little tipsy, but what can I say, I was already exhausted before the wine…
Regardless, the museum had plenty of interesting exhibits and interesting abstract works that drew me in. After that I pulled out the map I had grabbed from the hostel to figure out how I had ended up there and how the hell I was going to get back to my hostel.
The next day I started out at the café down the street called Beat Street Café and got a latte and a bagel before heading to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. The weather was that perfect kind of chilly where you can wear a jacket and a scarf and walk down the street without thinking about taking them off at any point. When I arrived at the gardens I was struck by how vibrant all the colors were and how beautiful all the flowers were.
I spent hours wandering around the gardens and taking a shit-ton of pictures (here are some my favorites below) before heading to Canterbury Museum, which is right next door to the gardens. I spent just as much time wandering around the museum and relishing my ability to be as slow as I wanted to be. I then searched on Google for a decently priced place to eat and came across a place called ‘Samurai Bowl’ that served chicken katsu-don (a delicious chicken, rice, and egg dish) and was sold instantly.
The next day I was mostly worthless, but I did manage to get my lazy ass up to go to the Christchurch Lantern Festival. The festival was packed but worth it for the brightly colored lanterns and $5 pork buns:
A couple places discovered during one of my random walking around sessions were the Cardboard Cathedral and the 185 Chairs memorial- both created after the 2011 earthquakes claimed the lives of 185 people in the area. The 185 Chairs memorial was incredibly powerful and put Christchurch’s history into perspective.
My last and possibly most significant adventure was at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve where I got to feed lemurs. IT WAS AMAZING. I walked around the reserve for a little bit before heading over to the meeting point for the lemur encounter. Since it was a Tuesday (and I guess most people are at work) it was almost eerily calm. I went at the perfect time though, because I was maybe a minute ahead of the zookeeper and got to see him feed the animals as I walked through the reserve.
When I got to the meeting point, I was somewhat surprised to see that I was the only one to show up for the encounter. The same zookeeper led me towards the lemurs after I had washed my hands and been given a bowl of bananas to feed my soon-to-be new furry friends. They crowded around us as we walked in and I held my hand out to give them each a banana slice. Every time I held my hand out, they would grab my hand with their tiny little hand and draw it closer to get to the banana slice and it was probably one of the cutest things I have ever seen in my life. One of them even jumped onto my shoulder at one point and she/he was so soft!
After that the keeper told me a little more about the adorable ring-tailed lemurs (like the fact that they are matriarchal) and then led me out of the enclosure. I then went around the rest of the mostly-empty reserve before heading back to my hostel in a state of lemur-induced happiness...