Last year with December fast approaching, we decided to take a 2 week trip to New Zealand over the Christmas holidays in place of our usual family gathering in Melbourne and days spent hiking in the Grampians. For Melinda and I part of the fun of travelling has always been in the planning process, and since we were flying into Christchurch to begin our road trip, it seemed only natural to spend a day wandering the city.
Upon arriving at our motel for the first night, we asked our host about where we should go for dinner, and what we should see in the city. Sadly her chilling pronouncement that the ‘city is gone’ proved to be completely accurate. Following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 -2011 in which at least 185 people lost their lives, the city has begun to rebuild; however the issues faced by the council and developers are not inconsiderable. Many buildings are simply fenced up awaiting demolition, the ground beneath them suitable for nothing heavier than parklands. Others such as the Cathedral and several churches have multiple reinforcing buttresses keeping the remains intact and containing the structural integrity.
Wandering through the city remains is indeed a surreal and very sad experience, and yet there is also great optimism as the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan begins to take effect. I suppose that I was just surprised to see just how much had still to be done, even after 3 years (the last major quake being in 2012) with so many areas of the city simply abandoned and awaiting the wrecking ball. Certainly this is in no way meant as a criticism of the recovery efforts; there is simply so much to do in the rebuilding of a city, particularly when so much of the land can never be used again…
Wandering through the Re-Start shopping area of Christchurch I came across this first image of a superb and thought provoking poster; part of the afore mentioned optimism that is very palpable among the locals.
The clever use of shipping containers in this area has kept the retailers in business, and adds a sense of colour and vibrancy…
The beautiful Cathedral, that in all likelihood will be totally demolished by the Anglican Church, to be replaced by another structure. This has not been without some controversy among the locals who have launched court cases to retain the old building, although it would appear without any real success.
As sad as it undoubtedly is to see such a lovely city still suffering, I was glad that we decided to spend three quarters of a day here; I honestly don’t feel that it would have been worth any more of our holiday time as I had never been to New Zealand before and was of course keen to take in as much of the South Island as I could. All images taken with my much loved new lens, the 24-70mm f2.8 II.