by sam on 2nd April 2017 2 comments
We landed in Christchurch at 9.30am after a beautiful sunrise and views of the snow-capped Southern Alps crowning through the cloud- stunning welcome to the South Island.
Our car this time is a red Rav 4, Number plate starts GRR so Liss has named him Graham! We were a bit worried it wouldn't be big enough for us all and the relative huge amount of packing we have this holiday. Nothing compared to loads at the airport, but way more than our 7kg each we took travelling before.
Our accomodation for tonight was a little wooden cottage (typical kiwi holiday home, known as baches here)- we've booked a few for this holiday as it works out about the same price as lots of cheaply motels or cabins that give us a load more space. We stopped at a supermarket en route to the cottage, we'd forgotten the expense of groceries here, but kids wanted to buy everything that was different and new...hmmm... It was a definite battle of (tired fueled) wills to get finished in there.
This cottage is super cute, and the owners found out we were flying in this morning so said they would fast clean it from last nights guests so we could get in at 10.30 instead of 4pm... Unbelievably grateful to wash and change!
The front of the building was saved whilst the entire structure behind is rebuilt from new
Christchurch had 2 big earthquakes back in 2010 (a 7.1 richter) and 2011 (a 6.3 richter) and the double hit has destroyed enormous parts of this beautiful city and killed nearly 200 people. 5 years on, the rebuild is slow but very definitely on the way up.
The city is the most unusual mix of destruction, either demolished or waiting to be demolished plus everything In between, or brand spanking new and contemporary. They have tried to retain 100 year old beautiful facades to some building while the rest of the building behind has collapsed and needed to be demolished. The facades are propped up by shipping containers and intricate mecano constructions of steel beams until they can build behind it. It's a really admirable attempt at retaining some of the original features.
Sadly the original Cathedral that was a little damaged during the first quake, was utterly destroyed in the second one due to a lack of authorities agreement on how best to proceed with the reinforcement and rebuild, leading to delays. So when the second quake hit, it was totally unsupported and the tower collapsed in on it, and remains that way now.
5 years on its a pile of rubble and debris with a temporary scaffolding "porch" overgrown with flowers at the safety fence. The cathedral square around it has been done up, there are communal big and small chess boards, and the mix of kids playing Autumn leaves and competitive chess and little coffee and street food vans right next door is odd, but quite emotional.
We caught the old hop on - hop off tram ride around the centre to see the highlights. Great way to see lots without making Liss walk too far. All the old details on these trams are always so lovely. Bizarrely we were joined on the last tram by a real life wizard!! It was surreal, but after chatting to him, he is an ex-RAF man who moved to Christchurch 42 years ago to escape the UK, and Has since lived life as a wizard!
It's a beautiful resilient city, it has the most amazing calm chilled out feeling. Shopping centres, office blocks and hundreds of homes were red zoned (not to be entered at all even to collect personal belongings) and have been or are waiting to be demolished still.
The entire CDB is one huge road work, but the shopping centre was replaced with a mall built out of shipping containers to tide them over for a year, and is still used now while the new shops begin to one one at a time. The temporary cathedral constructed from cardboard tubes continues to replace the stone original until decisions are made on its future.
And the new Margaret Mahy family park right in the city centre, the biggest play area in the Southern Hemisphere, is incredible, all 3 could have stayed for hours.
Quick drive up to the coast to a couple of places, and stop in a cafe at surf beach Sumner to enjoy the last of the sun before the weather changes tomorrow before back to the cottage for a big big sleep!!
The wizard.... He's great.
All looking good