Christchurch might be one of New Zealand’s biggest towns, but for the most part it still has the small-town feel that visitors to this country find alternately endearing and annoying. Bars here close at 11 p.m. most nights. People shop for groceries barefoot. And a 15-minute drive in almost any direction will have you back in the countryside.
But one thing that makes Christchurch feel decidedly urban is the street art here. There’s a lot of it, and most of it isn’t just graffiti but engaging pieces of artwork.
Some of it was commissioned by the council and private business after the earthquake, to enliven the vast expanses of empty space in the city centre. Other examples are clearly put up in the true spirit of the medium — quickly, illegally, and most likely under cover of darkness. One of my favorites is a huge wall I’ve found covered in colorful tags. It’s not in the city centre, but off in Woolston, where I live, on the backside of a building. There are no roads nearby, rather, it’s only visible from a secluded walking path along the Heathcote River. I see it most days when I walk the dog.