Sculpture in Cathedral Square © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -

A Day In Christchurch…

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.

Inspitational poster in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
I came across this poster in the Re-Start shopping mall area of Christchurch – wonderful and inspirational sentiments indeed! © Michael Evans Photographer 2015

The clever use of shipping containers in this area has kept the retailers in business, and adds a sense of colour and vibrancy…

Shipping container shops in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
© Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Shipping container shops in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
The Re-Start initiative using shipping containers as shops… © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Shipping container shops in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Container coffee © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Shipping container shops in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
© Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Shipping container shops in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
© Michael Evans Photographer 2015

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.

Earthquake damaged building in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
© Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Earthquake damaged building in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
The Cathedral has a viewing tunnel opposite the open ruin where the tower once stood © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Earthquake damaged building in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
© Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Sculpture in Cathedral Square © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Sculpture in Cathedral Square © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Poster in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
A sad review of how this lovely city once looked © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Chess in Cathedral Square © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Chess in Cathedral Square © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
© Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
© Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Arch sculpture in the park © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Arch sculpture in the park © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Signage outside the Christchurch Casino  © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Outside the casino © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Earthquake damaged building in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
This clock tower and the apartments behind it were all zoned off, deemed unstable © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Christchurch tram © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Christchurch tram © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Earthquake damaged building in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Another damaged church… © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Penguin mural in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
This cropped image is of a great mural above a car park in Christchurch; unfortunately I couldn’t get any closer, but just loved this piece… © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Earthquake damaged building in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
One building gone, one awaiting it’s fate © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Earthquake damaged building in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Another abandoned building; I believe this used to be one of the beautiful riverfront restaurants © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
The River Avon in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
The River Avon in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015
Pub and cranes in Christchurch © Michael Evans Photographer 2015 -
Behind this pub you see the ubiquitous cranes – the current symbol of the city © Michael Evans Photographer 2015

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.

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7 thoughts on “A Day In Christchurch…

  1. Hey Michael!
    In three days I’m moving to Christchurch for 4 months on exchange from Vancouver, Canada. It was helpful for me to read about your experience and the destruction that remains.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      You will love it in New Zealand, I pretty much guarantee it! We travelled around for two weeks and saw some stunning landscapes which will obviously feature in upcoming blogposts. In the time you have available, make sure you go to Wanaka, Milford Sound Te Anau and although it’s a bit of a cliché, go white water rafting in Queenstown (sooner rather than later as the river is still good…) Just be aware that it is expensive, prices on par with Melbourne but petrol is a lot more so… All the best with your travels!

  2. Hi Michael, brought back a lot of memories. Christchurch was the last stop on my tour of both North and South islands end of 2009/beginning 2010. Remember being in the Cathedral so well and watching a NZ group dancing in the square outside there and doing the Haka…… I guess it will be a long time before Christchurch is built and will obviously be a whole “new” town….

    1. Hi Marian,
      Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it! New Zealand was quite spectacular, and it’s on my doorstep! I really enjoyed Wanaka, so now I am planning on heading over for the Warbirds over Wanaka air show in March 2016 with my good mate Mark. Look forward to seeing you when I head back to the UK in June!! Take care, Michael

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