I was fortunate enough to visit Christchurch, New Zealand in November 2012, only 19 months after the earthquake that absolutely devastated the beautiful city tore through. This was another work-related trip, sponsored by Christchurch’s tourist board, to show us that they were fighting hard to get back on their feet, and would love some visitors once again. Before this trip, I hadn’t really considered travelling to New Zealand, much less a city that had been half destroyed by a horrible force of nature. I didn’t think there’d be enough to do there to warrant a visit. Boy, was I wrong..
Here’s a bit of what I experienced over my few days in Christchurch.
The Cathedral copped a fair bit of damage, sadly… repairs were continuing at the time of our visit, and I believe still are.. A lot of other buildings felt the wrath of nature as well, and a lot is still untouched; we even spied a plate and bottle of soy sauce still sitting in the window of a sushi shop, assumingly used not long before disaster struck…
An incredible group of people banded together to start the Gap Filler Project; an “urban regeneration initiative” placing some pretty amazing and incredibly creative projects for community benefit and enjoyment in some of the “gaps” left behind by the earthquake. My favourite was the Dance-O-Mat, a converted old laundromat washing machine that you can plug your iPhone, iPad etc into, blast out some tunes, and have a dance under the washing line!
We also loved the pallet pavilion…
And the soccer pitch…
The Re:START project was another beauty – a little pop-up shopping market of sorts, with all stalls occupying their own shipping container. Amazing! I didn’t really take a heap of pictures of the bars, restaurants and cafés, but my goodness, they have an amazing entertainment scene now as well! Particularly the kitschy, cute little bars popping up on every corner, they really were fantastic!!
But by far the most incredible sights of the horrific destruction came from a helicopter ride over the city… to literally see gaps where buildings once stood was just breathtakingly tragic.
We also saw, however, just how naturally beautiful this place is..
More to come at a later stage on the rest of that trip, but hopefully for those of you like me, who’ve never been or entertained the thought of going, you can see that there is actually a fair bit going on in Christchurch since the earthquake. It’s a beautiful city, with amazing people, and you should probably give it a chance! I’m glad I did : )