February 2011 the city of Christchurch was hit by a big earthquake. The magnitude 6.3 earthquake, and all of the aftershocks that followed it, including a second 7.1 magnitude earthquake 6 months later, had a huge impact on the city leaving hundreds without homes. It also had a significant impact on the central part of the city which is immediately obvious as you drive around. Virtually none of it is left. There is a large part, called the red zone, where all the buildings, pretty much every single one, has been or is in the process of being flattened including the beautiful Christchurch cathedral.
But in the middle of all this is a little gem, called ReStart. The ReStart mall has been set up on Cashel Mall and is very easy to get to and to find parking for. The whole area has been set up with shipping containers which have been painted bright colours, adapted to have glass sides and filled with a range of exciting stores, ranging from stores that used to be in the area before their buildings were demolished to New Zealand designers, food shops etc. It is really incredible what they have done and the hundreds of other people walking around the area probably all are thinking the same thing. It is a fun and dynamic area and although it was meant to be a temporary installment I hope that they keep it here permanently.
On one side of the Mall is Humminbird Café. This is made up of a few large shipping containers side by side and on top of each other making it a two story shop. From the top you have a view of the whole ReStart area and the surrounding buildings that have yet to be demolished. The tables on the terrace were almost all full, and we were lucky to find one. Of course I had to try their hot chocolate, and I loved it. It came in a gorgeous grey blue mug. It was just a nice hot chocolate, nothing too extraordinary but exactly what I wanted this morning and my favourite probably so far in New Zealand. There was jazz playing in the background, the staff were very friendly and smiley, and from our little table not only did we have the beautiful sun warming us up but also a view of all the other people enjoying ReStart and all that it has to offer for locals and tourists alike.
Verdict: I really enjoyed ReStart and am so impressed at the city of Christchurch, that amongst all that destruction they have created something so unique and special and full of life. Get yourself to Hummingbird café, you won’t regret it. Hummingbird Coffee, Restart on Cashel Mall, Christchurch, New Zealand