Monday, May 4, 2015

Echoes in Christchurch - A City in (After) Shock

In September 2010, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake brought significant damage to Christchurch and the Central Cantebury region. Then 6 months later, in February 2011, already weakened infrastructure and New Zealand's second-most populous city was hit (again) by a 6.3 earthquake that killed 185 people and marked one of the nation's deadliest peacetime disasters. 

We had a chance to see the still-devastating effects that these natural disasters has had on beautiful Christchurch. Katherine showed us the physical and explained to us the emotional side to this terrible tragedy. 

A proud people with the commitment to move on - but so much to rebuild!

Canada Geese in New Zealand?!? Really?!?

The first areas we saw used to be residential - now only empty fields and caution tape remain...

After the quakes, the New Zealand government made the controversial decision to take over parts of Christchurch and impose "crown-owned land" restrictions on the rebuild. So far, not much has happened in much of this space. CERA (Cantebury Earthquake Recovery Authority) is acting on behalf of the crown and still has many unresolved settlements and related issues (over 4 years after!)

You can see where the liquefaction of the soil has just swallowed up part of this solid concrete fence and then froze it that way after.

We had a break from our city tour to visit Nick at his school and have some fun on the playground.

We headed into the City Centre of Christchurch and began our walk around at Cathedral Square

Temporary fences and construction projects fill the city - especially near Cathedral Square

A city of scaffolding

Protecting statues and monuments - some statues were toppled and have yet to be repaired

A people searching for answers...

We came upon a chess game in the square - very intense!

A beautiful flower-covered viewing area has been set-up to see the damages to Christchurch Cathedral

In many places, large containers have been placed up against walls to prevent further collapses

The city is filled with many beautiful murals and paintings on the buildings. This one was a very thought-provoking allusion to global warming.

View of the Avon River from the Bridge

The boys had a splash in the fountain before we snapped a family photo

Rebuilding the Arts Centre of Christchurch is projected to take 7 years and cost $290 million

In front of the Dyslexia Building

The Cantebury Museum

A crisp autumn day - perfect for walking!

After the earthquakes, this "shipping container mall" (named Re:Start) was erected to temporarily provide a shopping centre district in Christchurch. Years later, it remains and has become quite a "must see" stop for tourists.

This spray-painted marker signifies when the building was checked and cleared in the post-earthquake search and rescue operations (February 26th)

The boys found some extremely 'still' (and colourful) sheep to ride!

Beautiful (and mysterious) artwork covered many city centre spaces


Many major buildings remain closed and often are awaiting demolition and/or restoration decisions to be made

Walking through the Tram Station

Lego "Middle Earth"

A stroll down New Regent Street to check out the shops and cafes

The tram

Bells-into-flowerpots - unique art

Boys found a game of hopscotch 

Incredible mural on the back of the Isaac Theatre Royal building

Gloucester Street - Large Green Chairs

Did we shrink?

Preparing for the ANZAC Day Centenary 

On the tram and ready to go!

We landed in a very famous seat!

More artwork

The Cardboard Cathedral (a transitional cathedral that is largely made of cardboard tube, wood and glass)

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was particularly hit hard by the earthquakes

Shipping containers and straw bales hold up the right side from further collapse


To see some comparision photos of some of these (and other) buildings, you can check out:

After a very reflective day of experiencing Christchurch, we headed back home to relax and unwind!

The boys had an amazing time on the trampoline

Playing some cards by the fire

...and a Robert Munsch story tucked us all in nicely for bed on the final night!

A really cool feature of our flight to and from New Zealand had to be the in-flight safety video. Lord of the Rings brought to real-life! Even the Orcs were concerned about their safety it seems...

Flying back home to Australia over the Southern Alps - beautiful!

Another trip to tick off the list! 

Thanks again to Nick, Katherine, Joseph, Rhys and James for their incredible hospitality and kindness. Countdown to your Canada trip is on now!


  1. Great post mate. Really enjoyed reading this. Look forward to catching up another time! Nk

  2. Thanks Nick! You guys lived through it - crazy stuff. Thanks for sharing your special city with us.