Walking around the CBD at Christchurch in 2018, I was of course struck by the level of devastation that the earthquake had caused. But in saying that, I was also struck by the things that have survived.
Looking at these photos, it was reassuring that the old-time pioneers built such hardy buildings.
And even when the buildings were damaged, the fact that they survived in some form (as in the case of the Anglican Cathedral) is astonishing.
After following the alpine rivers to the coast, it was a case of retracing our steps back to the city of Christchurch. We’ll concentrate a bit on Christchurch here. Few people can visit this city in 2018 and emerge unmoved.
On Tuesday, 22nd of February, 2011, the city was hit by a 6.2 earthquake whose centre was a mere 7km from the CBD. This was after 7.1 earthquake hit the area some 5 months before. What resulted was utter devastation, and though we visited almost 8 years after the earthquake, what happened in 2011 was still all around in the vacant lots that were waiting to be rebuilt.
But I don’t want to dwell solely on the tragedies, because I think it’s the creative and vibrant ways that the locals found to get back on their feet – things that can be found around almost every corner – that really made our visit. I’ll write about some of these little things in this series.
We left Golden Bay and headed for the wild West Coast. Although it is generally less than 50km as the crow flies from Golden Bay to the West Coast, this area is so rugged that there aren’t any roads through the area, though it’s great for real outdoor types. A famous walking/hiking/tramping track, the Heaphy, passes through here and though beautiful, I heard it’s not a Sunday stroll by any means.
So who dares to live on the wild west coast? Only the hardiest of Kiwis – it’s wild and woolly most of the time in the west. There are towns scattered throughout, though it doesn’t get much larger than Westport, population a touch under 5,000.
Like a lot of Kiwi towns, it has its share of art deco public buildings, as the older buildings were all destroyed in an earthquake in 1929. Earthquakes are a common theme in New Zealand.
Close to Westport is Cape Foulwind, named by Captain Cook, who didn’t have very a good time on the West Coast.
At least now there’s a lighthouse to warn people away from the dangerous coast.
Kaikoura was a town that was clearly still recovering from its recent disaster. But Kiwis do have lots of experience with natural disasters, so they seem to just get on with it so that things can get back to ‘normal’.
This area has been cleaned up and demountables and other quick building solutions were brought in to act as shops.
We certainly found good fish and chips there for lunch.
In December 2018, we travelled for 2 weeks around the top of the South Island of New Zealand. Never posted from that time, so here is the start of it (this series will definitely go on for sometime).
To start off with, we drove north of Christchurch. We’ll revisit the city at the end of the journey, but the drive up was quite spectacular.
However, there were plenty of reminders of the massive earthquake barely 13 months before. This part of the coastline was very hard-hit, and they were still fixing up major parts of the highway (the main thoroughfare in these parts).
The very slow journey was worth the drive to reach these views.