Monday, 24 September 2012

NZ travelogue: the Riccarton Bush

After the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple in Christchurch, the Riccarton Bush was our next stop in the itinerary. Originally, I had wanted to visit the farmer's market but found out that it was open only on a Saturday morning. As we would only arrive in Christchurch on Saturday evening, that means that we would have missed it already.

Nevertheless come Sunday morning, we still decided to visit the Riccarton Bush. This place is the largest surviving remnant of the forests that once covered the Canterbury Plains. Our destination was the Riccarton House. Although the building was closed due to the Christchurch earthquake, the vast grounds were still accessible to people and it was there that an artisan's market would be held every Sunday.

Pathway leading up to Riccarton House

Getting there was quite easy and finding a parking lot wasn't any problem. A leisurely walk among the tall kahikatea trees took us to Riccarton House. Stalls were already opened and people were everywhere .... eating, shopping or just whiling away time sitting by the banks of the Avon River. We did all three.

Riccarton House

Some of the stalls selling a wide variety of stuff 

People milling every where

Although the house was out of bounds, it did not stop people from occupying the verandah.

Others were enjoying the outdoor sun in a nippy autumn weather

Nearby, a band was providing entertainment

Directly opposite the house was the Avon River

We strolled around the grounds and came across Deans Cottage, built by pioneering Scottish brothers, William and John Deans, in 1843. This is the oldest building on the Canterbury Plains, built from timber cut in the Riccarton Bush and pit-sawn into boards. The brothers had lived here until their early and tragic deaths. William drowned in a shipwreck in 1851 while John died from tuberculosis in this cottage in 1854. The interior of the cottage has been turned into a museum to showcase the brothers' living conditions in the 19th century.

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