No Paywave!

Good evening from Christchurch NZ. We arrived late evening on the 9th after a long stretch of travel and touring through Australia which you can read about in the previous posts. It was a huge change of pace to land on the southern hemisphere as we have entered an entirely different climate and culture. Its been much easier for us to assimilate, the biggest downside being the early sunset often has us ready to sleep by dinner time. We still have two weeks and a significant amount of northward travel to look forward to here but Christchurch has been a great place to start.

One of the biggest factors in our decision to visit New Zealand was travel and the use of cars to get around. Neither of us have cars at home and when given the option we rarely choose a personal vehicle. The thought of having one in a foreign country and driving on the left side of the road seemed like too much to tackle. There is no doubt we could do it but we weren't up for proving that. So instead we are opting for long range buses between cities and local transport within each base. In Christchurch this has been easy. We got ourselves the local (and aptly named) Metrocard which provides discounted rides on buses that will get us places about a half an hour outside the city. It doesn't provide the flexibility of a car but we are in no rush most of the time. Within the city everything is walkable and there is also Uber and those pesky e-scooters (which we finally gave in to!). The cooler weather has given us the ability to walk between 5-10 miles a day though at night its been chilly.

Our hotel is located on the opposite side of Hagley park and a good twenty minutes from the city center. As the city's nickname is "the garden city" this walk through the park has been a pleasure despite taking fifteen minutes one way. The paths and grounds are immaculate and the setting is serene with ponds, botanical gardens, and a golf course. Each time we walk to and fro we can't help but marvel at the peacefulness of the city. Christchurch and its residents are always noting how much of a change this must be from NYC and we couldn't agree more - yet we love it.

There have been multiple outings to different coastal neighborhoods each with sweeping views of the coastline and surrounding hills. The architecture within the city is ultra modern mostly due to the recent need for reconstruction. There is a vibrant art scene shown on many of the buildings and throughout the city's sidewalks. Most notably there are probably more coffee shops than residents.

One of the thing I quickly noticed and subsequently started commenting on was the "no paywave" stickers on the credit card terminals. Having spent a month in Asia we became quite used to tapping our cards and phones on terminals to avoid the dreaded signature prompt that no locals ever were prepared for. Now in New Zealand we are learning how much the country seems to despise the use of cards altogether - and while most places do accept cards they seem to do it begrudgingly. Many places tack on a half dollar fee or a couple percent of the total bill. Apparently this is in reaction to the fees charged by card issuers. Moreover they dislike paywave (or NFC) for its even higher fee. While I haven't done the research I can't imagine the fees here are much worse than other countries so it seems odd that NZ is trying to ensure the customer knows they are paying for this cost. Anyway these handwritten stickers on the card machines have made quite the impact through two days.

We've still got a couple of days left here in Christchurch before moving north to Kaikoura for some marine wildlife and coastal living. We hope to go hiking tomorrow and visit a farmers market on Saturday so I will try get an update out around Sunday. Oh, and for anyone who was curious, NZ beat India to make it to the world cup final. Sadly the matches start at 9:30pm here and end at some unthinkable hour but I managed to watch some twenty overs before going to sleep and waking up to the result. We look forward to their success and hopefully a parade since we've missed one back home.

Photos for the TL;DR folks!
Cool Airport Lighting

Hagley Park Pond

Panorama from New Brighton Pier

Street(light) Art

Memorial to the 185 Earthquake Victims

Cave Rock

Pegasus Bay

Street Art

Cave Rock