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Pinging Christchurch — Kiwi Wi-Fi Beyond City Centre

May 17th, 2011 · Tags:Uncategorized

It’s been said when you’re #2 you try harder. Perhaps the rest of that thought is that if you are #1, you do whatever you darn well please.

That’s the way it seems at my new favorite coffee shop — Addington Coffee Co-op in Christchurch on Lincoln. It seems like they are only open when they bloody well please, but when I finally caught them open … it was special. Yes they be numero uno.
First off, as the manager pointed out to me, it is housed in one of the only brick buildings left standing unscathed in this great, wounded city. The structure was the back shop of a petrol station back in the day. There is more rustic than you can shake a stick at. Distressed rafters, brick walls, eclectic furniture and a huge dining area, with little conversation areas and couches mixed about.

Addington Coffee

Not only were there laptops types like me, there were families with kids, couples meeting for Saturday morning breakfast, students, athletes … a good cross section.

I opted for a tall black coffee concoction and a cup of Wi-Fi … which was – unlike many Christchurch Wi-Fi hotspots — free for the taking, as long as I wanted — compliments of a provider called ZenBu.

Up in the rafters there is a Rastafarian flag and better yet some vintage bicycles for decor. In fact, the souvenir shirt rack and the outside patio fence are both made of old bicycles … pretty cool. I hid out between the aquarium and the toybox, opting for a plush couch, with a great seat for people watching.

Catch them after 9 on a weekend morning and before 4 p.m. during the week, or otherwise you’re out of luck … 6 pings, plus 1 bonus ping for playing an entire CD by Band of Horses — 7 pings — perfect score. Oh … and after-hours, you can rent the place.

Closer to my hotel on Papanui is another new favorite, Coffee Culture. I have seen several locations of this brand around Christchurch, but this one is within walking distance, so they get to put up with me just about every day.

I like any place that will serve you in your own little teapot, right off the bat. This place is kind of swank. It seems like there are some movers and shakers who come in after one of the nice restaurants in the area, a few students, and some coffee shop veterans. Great pastry selection, including a raspberry and Hazelnut layered meringue cake TDF.

Clare, Coffee Culture

Clare, Coffee Culture

But here’s the thing. With all these wonderful things going for it, Coffee Culture only allows 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi use, then they charge out the whazoo. What’s up with that? It seems to be a trend here in Christchurch … and I don’t like it.

Furthermore, the Internet provider for Coffee Culture has gotten a bit cute and they do a cash register-printed password for the allotted, stingy 30 minutes. Well Einsteins, if you do that avoid zeros and the letter O … because off a cheap printer, those two characters look identical but are not interchangeable. Ha … I am not exaggerating much … last night my password was like OBIE0 00NE OR30 WH0O0OPIE … except all the round things were exactly the same. Let me see, according to my calculations, that’s only about 12,578 possible password possibilities if you have to guess which are zeros and which are Os!

Ha … I pointed this out to the cashiers, and meaning to be helpful, they said just try them all one way or the other. (Don’t you think I tried that first!?!)

I digress …

Like I was saying, most of the servers are really nice.  Ha! Some highschoolers pulled me aside to compliment me on my crazy-man retro mutton chops … highly amusing.   And, the spiced chai frappe there is one of the best ever.

Most of the server staff here are pretty nice, which gives the place a much more user-friendly Wi-Fi escape.

Do you really need my Wi-Fi money that badly, after five and a half bucks for a medium sized frappe? Great place, mediocre Wi-Fi business plan, 5 pings despite all that potential.

I haven’t checked out Wi-Fi at a McDonalds since the early days of my first blog. On that San Francisco summer day, the Wi-Fi didn’t work, but a homeless teenager taught me how to get a free meal at the restaurant … She acted like her watch fell into the trash and started digging through it … saying, “I lost my watch! I lost my watch!” She hadn’t. But she insisted she had and that everything would be okay if they just let her take the trash out and go through it. Yuck … poor thing. I digress …

Back to Christchurch — here the “Donnys'” seem special … they are McCafes with their own built in coffee shop, a secluded meeting area for small private meetings, and yes Wi-Fi!

I succumbed to my first fast food since coming to this country three weeks ago and went back to the Micky D’s roots — the Big Mac and then I fired up Wi-Fi with special sauce.

McDonald’s in Kiwiville has scored. Their little cafes are a hit, and always full. In addition the Wi-Fi is excellent. Merely hit okay on the splashpage, after ignoring all the legalese disclaimer crap and you’re on.

Although McDonalds escaped a scolding since they didn’t require a password, they should get a stern talking to for limiting usage on their Wi-Fi network.  I was working dilligently, eating fries and blogging, when up popped: “You have used your data allocation.  Please try later.”   Ha … I went back and actually read or scanned their disclaimer. I don’t think there was anything about a Wi-Fi statute of limitations or allocation or whatever. LOL … but I was tickled to read the jargon included the word “whilst.” Well … whilst you are being so quick to turn off my Wi-Fi connection, you might give me a warning … you know in the farfetched likelihood that I might be doing something important on the computer that needs to be saved. Man I hate that! Usually when i get kicked off a Wi-Fi network without warning, I am trying to beat a deadline and post a blog and lose half my work … Anywho …

McDonald’s, also on Papanui in Chch, has excellent Wi-Fi under their arches and it is a pretty good people hang out. Even saw some prayer groups meeting in one of the private rooms — 6 pings.

By the way … I have a list of Boingo Hotspots here in Christchurch where I can use my roaming membership, free and easy, but so far I haven’t encountered one. Last time, I spotted a hotspot that had Boingo roaming capability at a Starbucks in the City Center area. Now of course, it is doubtful that store exists, in the area where the quake did the most damage.

For something different I drove out of Christchurch on Kennedy’s Bush Road and on through some farming and wine country on the Akaroa Highway to the town of Taitapu  It is nice rolling farmland, with mountains in view, so it is quite a bicycling Mecca. And it seems the The Store in Taitapu is where all the cyclists stop. Can’t remember the last time I stopped at a country store that has its own custom cyclist jerseys. But “Did it have Wi-Fi,?” you might ask. Yes and no. It had a signal that popped up right away. And after a couple of tries and after a purchase, the clerk finally handed over the top secret password. It was “store” and more importantly, it did not work. After about a dozen tries, I moved on … without a cyclist jersey and without a W-Fi score.

Moving on … just around the corner from Addington Co-op is a bright white coffee shop I noticed during both of my New Zealand assignments. It wasn’t until last weekend that I had a chance to stop at Crafted Coffee Company. It’s appearance from the road is not deceiving — bright white, modern, angular, near perfect … a place where a modern craft takes place.

Well inside, the place is black and white and red all over … a neat motif. The crowd seems pretty cool … i few tourists, a few business people … a few police offers.  Ha … I think they are utensil challenged.  They brought to me butter for my muffin in the same type of spoon used for egg drop soup in The States.  And no knife.  Also, no offense, but the service was dreadfully slow — 10 minutes to heat a muffin in a microwave with only four other parties in the place. Pity that the attention to detail in the store design didn’t trickle down to the service.

So how about the Wi-Fi.

I was shocked. This place looks like they have thought of every detail with perfect, precise execution … and yet they left out Wi-Fi!

No soup for you!

Crafted Coffee should have been at least a 6 pinger, and yet, they apparently are not into this modern communications and coffee thing – 4 pings.

Lastly, I sat in and even contributed to the town hall meeting — the Share An Idea community expo –where Kiwis came together to express their ideas to rebuild Christchurch. Thousands showed up to hear speakers, watch videos, write their support on a bulletin wall and to post video messages on the YouTube site for the project. Do you think I got on in front of their YouTube camera and shouted out about Bet your arse!

Ping Represents In Christchurch

And whilst the YouTube thing was fun, it paled by comparison with my excitement in meeting the Official Wizard of New Zealand. (No I am not making this up … he really has the official title.) We chatted for a bit, and I shot some video for a later date. After the Expo, I slipped around the corner in the arena. This is the same arena in which, by the way, my buddies and I caught Metallica last year … I digress …

Metallica In Christchurch

Just around the corner at the Cantebury is The Tuck Shop Cafe. It is a very hip, nice, wide open dining area and bar with floor to ceiling windows on one side of the arena. It seemed like THE place to be after the event. I wonder if it is like that every time there is something at the hall. You know I am going to ask for you … Was their Wi-Fi? Drats, foiled again! The signal was strong enough to knock me out of my chair (figure of speech) and yet … once again I could not get on — even though the the hotspot was not password protected. What gives? Another no score!

Know what I sayin?