Christchurch was devastated by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, but the resilient residents worked tirelessly to renew their beautiful city. Whether you live nearby or are travelling to Christchurch, spend a day or two in the Re:START district, which comprises a number of earthquake-damaged businesses that moved into former shipping containers. Re:START is shopping at its most eclectic.
Re:START originated with the businesses from the area of the city where earthquakes were particularly damaging. The Re:START anchor store, Ballantynes department store, as well as other area stores such as Hunters & Collectors, Scorpio Bookstore, Cosmic and Johnson’s Bookstore made the transition from central city to the new Re:START development on Cashel Mall.
Of course, those aren’t the only businesses you’ll find there. Over 30 retailers have set up in Re:START, and although originally intended to be only a six-month solution before moving to more permanent structures, Re:START retailers aren’t looking at the shipping containers as a temporary solution any more. Shoppers love the funky designs, and the ambiance of this indie shopping centre is one of the many reasons people flock to the area.
Besides the Ballantynes department store, Hunters & Collectors, Scorpio Bookstore, Cosmic and Johnson’s Bookstore staples, you can find these retailers in Re:START as well:
· Crafted Coffee
· Head Over Heels
· Infinite Definite
They may have started as shipping centres, but the stores don’t resemble sterile, uninviting shipping containers from the inside. Designers from around New Zealand contributed to each retailers’ new look, going for eclectic as well as functional. The area is ideal for those looking to get some work done without being stuck at home, the hotel or the office. There are cafes and two outdoor food courts with free Wi-Fi.
Re:START isn’t just a place to shop and dine. Music acts and art shows rotate as the featured Re:START events throughout the year. Musical acts include everything from jazz to folk to indie pop to classical.
There are interactive Re:START events that let you give back to the Christchurch community as it rebuilds. Look for events such as the Botanical Preservation Project, which asks for volunteers to help plant flora throughout the area and offers a free, handmade trail guide that you can take home with you as a souvenir. Have fun with friends both old and new during events in which participants play games in order to learn about a social issue and meet new people. There are movie events, art lessons and group bicycle tours that take place in and around the Re:START area.
Re:START sets “trading hours,” during which you’ll find all of the shopping boutiques open. Monday through Friday, you should expect to shop between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. During the weekend, the trading hours start at 10 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Of course, not every business shuts its doors when Re:START trading hours are over. Plus, a few businesses open just as the sun sets, so be sure to come back at night.
Re:START isn’t the same at night, so it’s worth fitting in a trip one morning or afternoon and on another day during your visit to Christchurch after the sun goes down. Bars such as Re:START’s Revival are the focus of the Re:START nightlife. Watch for Revival’s food truck, which comes out at night, to get a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine. If Middle Eastern food isn’t what you’re looking for, you’ll also find Asian food retailers in former shipping containers around the area. Grab dinner and a drink, and take in the eclectic look of the shopping centre at night!
The Re:START shopping centre in Christchurch is a way for you to get some shopping done, view beautiful and one-of-a-kind architecture and support the rebuilding efforts of the devastated city. Be sure to include a stop or two during your next trip to the area.
Image provided by Dan Steer
About the Author: Marylou DeForge is a contributing writer and travel agent. She’s written numerous articles that have appeared online and frequently gives travellers tips for how to score the cheapest Christchurch flights for their visit to the area.