You most probably have heard of the wonderful seaside city of Brighton on the south coast of England but you may not yet have heard of New Brighton right on the opposite side of the world in New Zealand.
New Brighton is a coastal suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand about 8 kilometers to the east of the main city center. A small quaint town with a population of around 2,500. After the Christchurch earthquakes in 2011, this area was significantly damaged and after many years it is very slowly beginning to rebuild itself again in every sense of the word.
Living in Christchurch myself, I make sure to pop down here every so often, I love coming along here to enjoy the seaside, its buzzing Saturday markets and the individual little stores dotted around the town. Sadly I wasn’t able to experience New Brighton to its full potential before the earthquakes had hit, coming here now I can see the town is still trying to pick up the pieces and bring the place back to its thriving life but that’s not to say I still don’t love this quirky and comforting town today, along with the people, even if delay and neglect is apparent.
While currently sat at the New Brighton seaside library writing this I can’t help but think about my time in Brighton, England. I mean with the same name, seaside qualities and famous pier landmarks it’s hard not too.
Early last year while I was living in England it was always a big priority of mine to visit Brighton, the universe had been pulling me towards this place for a very long time now. Living in Bath at the time it was a rather long train journey to get to Brighton so it took me a while to finally find the time off work to do it but come near the end of my journey in England it was time to take the plunge.
After dreaming for many years of this intriguing seaside city when the time finally came the feeling upon arrival was a feeling I will never ever forget. After a very long journey from Bath – London – Brighton, as the sun began to set, my coach took a turn around a corner as pulsating lights caught the side of my eye, I sat up in a haze, gazed out the window and there flashing at me was the famous ‘Brighton Pier’ sign and in that moment everything around me faded, I was at a loss of breath and this overwhelming feeling of excitement and happiness took over my whole being, I had finally arrived.
Visiting Brighton, England had exceeded all my expectations and I loved every minute of it, from walking the pier with a Nutella crepe in my hand, being wrapped in a blanket watching the sun go down on the pebbled beach and exploring the ever so funky Lanes. I never wanted to leave!
If you were to read through the many google reviews on New Brighton you would see a lot of comparison between both New Brighton and Brighton, England. But in my opinion the two can not be compared, although they do share some significant similarities that I had mentioned above, the two places are completely individual in there own way. With New Brighton homing a very small number of around 2,500 residents, Brighton holds around 288,200. So there is a significant difference in the population between the two. Brighton (England) itself is a booming city with a constant influx of tourism, whereas New Brighton (Christchurch) is more or less just a small town community and when the Saturday markets aren’t running the place is more or less a ghost town.
The naming of New Brighton is also something I questioned as the motive behind it and what I could find was that apparently the name was chosen on a ‘spur of moment’ decision by William Fee, an early settler of the area. Fee had chalked ‘New Brighton’ on a wooden plank, supposedly in reference to his fellow settler Stephen Brooker, who had come from New Brighton in England so the influence for sure is there and may have potentially contributed a lot to the way it is today but New Brighton is in no way the ‘new and improved Brighton England’. I see both places as complete individuals but love them both immensely.
The similar love I share for these two places is not so much in the influence on what the people had on it but it is the beautiful seaside qualities they both possess along with there captivating piers which for both I have wandered along and shared undisturbed deep thoughts while overlooking the crashing waves. Both places have managed to make me feel warm inside although the captivating winds are freezing me on the outside. I suggest if you get the chance to be sure to check out both places but don’t go comparing the too, just enjoy them for there individuality.
-Tayla Harter, WanderingHarter