128 Cashel Street
Christchurch Central, New Zealand
+64 22 182 1921
Christchurch. Once a beautiful city filled with hanging gardens and cathedrals, the largest city in New Zealand’s South Island has since reduced to rubble no thanks to a nasty earthquake last year.
So far, our New Zealand road trip had been full of adventures and laughter but sadness gripped on us as we drove from Christchurch airport and into the city, which reminded us of far away war-torn regions. The place was deserted and many zones around the city still remain ‘no go zones.’ In fact, our hotel (Hotel Ibis) was the first hotel in the CBD to re-open since the earthquake, having only accepted patrons a week or two before we arrived.
Amongst the devastation, however, there was light. And that light came in the form of Re:START, a shipping container pop-up mall on Cashel Street in the city. And the source behind that light? A swarm of good-hearted Kiwis who, despite all they’ve endured, still manage to not only go about their daily businesses but do so in a warm and friendly manner. There was not one Kiwi we encountered in our very short stay in Christchurch who didn’t go out of their way to be hospitable to us weirdo Aussies and for that, I loved Christchurch just that little bit more.
Re:START has everything from a post office to a bank to countless clothes stores. Yep, all in shipping containers. They also have several stores dedicated to local arts and crafts items and designer stores stocking stuff by Trelise Cooper and Karen Walker. In other words, I was in Dave Dobbyn’s heaven (don’t worry, this won’t be the last New Zealand post that mentions his name).
They also have food trucks! (unfortunately none of them were open for business that day)
With our appetites sufficiently worked up after some shopping, we decided to stop by colourful pizza place Base Woodfired Pizza.
To me, Base looks like one of those places that don’t have a permanent restaurant per se but only pop up during music festivals and the like. That said, Base seems to have made a semi-permanent home at Re:START to feed hungry shop assistants and shoppers alike, which can only be a good thing. Each pizza is on a thin base and cooked at 400 degrees Celsius which means that your pizza will always come out crispy and hot.
Marty ordered the Sir George (NZD$15/AUD$11.90), which was described as ‘a feast of bacon, pepperoni and mini meatballs with lashings of smoky BBQ sauce – WHAM!’ I gave them points for the George Michael reference alone, though the pizza was also delicious. I don’t normally go out of my way to order meat-only pizzas but I thought this one was pretty good. It also helped that the pizza was jam-packed full of good quality meat (like Mr Michael himself, heeeh!) rather than the cheap bulk cuts and the BBQ sauce was perfectly balanced between sweet and smoky.
I really wanted to try Base’s butter chicken pizza but was severely disappointed to be told that they had sold out. On a whim, I ordered the Vegie Supreme (NZD$15/AUD$11.90) which was topped with capsicums, zucchini (they called it ‘courgettes’ here), onions, pumpkin and mushrooms. It was tied together by a ‘Tuscan seasoning’ (read: tomatoes and Italian herbs) with mozzarella. I didn’t particularly enjoy this one as I’m not a fan of pumpkin or zucchini (that’ll teach me not to read the ingredients list properly) and naturally, they were the dominant ingredients. We did manage to eat it all (Marty even said that it wasn’t bad for a vegetarian pizza) but in hindsight, I would have had a better time with the pepperoni pizza which they called the Sgt Peppers.
Base is a welcome addition to Re:START, which, in turn, is a great addition to Christchurch city while it rebuilds itself. I sincerely do hope that both Base and Re:START become permanent fixtures once Christchurch v.2 is completed as I believe both places add something positively different Christchurch, let alone any city.