It’s been many years since we visited Christchurch, the ‘garden city’ of New Zealand. Actually, that’s not strictly true. We were flown there on 23rd August, and flown out two weeks later, for our Managed Isolation. Unsurprisingly, during that two-week period, all we saw of Christchurch was the airport and the view from our second-storey room at the Sudima Airport Hotel. This time we had far more freedom to explore a little. We even managed to enjoy a couple of the reportedly over 740 parks and gardens in the city.
Exploring The Disaster-Prone City
I can’t imagine anyone reading won’t have heard about the two major events that tragically touched the lives of all Caterburians in the past decade.
1/ The 2011 earthquake
On 22nd February, 2011, a catastrophic earthquake brought the garden city to its knees. There’d been a larger magnitude quake the previous September which caused nowhere near as much havoc.
“The earthquake struck at lunchtime, when many people were on the city streets. More than 130 people lost their lives in the collapse of the Canterbury Television and Pyne Gould Corporation buildings. Falling bricks and masonry killed another 11 people, while eight died in two city buses that were crushed by crumbling walls. Rock cliffs collapsed in the Sumner and Redcliffs area, and boulders tumbled down the Port Hills, with five people killed by falling rocks.”https://nzhistory.govt.nz/page/christchurch-earthquake-kills-185
It must’ve been a terrifying time for Christchurch. Though worse was to come as it wasn’t a natural disaster.
Exploring How The City Looks Today
Jamie, Barry’s daughter, was working on Thursday the day after we arrived. Our friend Monique happened to be a two-hour drive away and drove to catch up. It’s been many years since we last saw her in the UK. She’s now retired in NZ and has been travelling around the country ‘woof’-ing. It’s a brilliant way to experience different areas on a budget. One of her sons and grandchildren live nearby, so our timing was spot on for a change. We tootled into the city for lunch, and an explore.
Below you’ll find aa mix of my iPhone images AND Barry’s interspersed (it’ll be obvious which is which!).
There’s an abundance of eateries in the Centre. We chose some street food and sat very close to the damaged Cathedral. Although not cheap ($25 each), and with limited time, we decided the best way to pack in some sights and local information was via one of the city’s tram rides.
We weren’t wrong. It was fascinating. I managed to scribble a few facts down:
* 70% of the city buildings were either destroyed by the quake or demolished afterwards. Since then a law has been passed limited the height of new builds to 28 metres.
* Most buildings have been constructed using glass and steel, with stabilizing cross-crosses. Surprisingly it’s safer. Glass doesn’t fall. Windows hold their place and don’t shatter when the earth moves beneath them.
* A multitude of murals have sprung up around the city. One of these is a wonderful wax eye bird in a kowhai tree. Christchurch appears in the Lonely Planet Guide Top 10 for Street Art.
* Three buildings over 28 meters survived the earthquake.
* The famous cathedral was ‘owned’ by the Anglican Church who took it upon themselves to demolish the landmark tower. The council and the community stepped in outraged. A heated debate ensued which culminated in the council paying the church off. After all it’s their land, NOT the church’s. So the re-building was delayed by many years and will cost far more than it should have. It’ll be two years just to make the walls strong enough for anyone to stay inside and start work. The only thing allowed inside is drones. They’ve reported that inside theres 30cm deep of pidgeon poo as they’ve decided it’s a rather pleasant home thank you very much! It will take $154 million and seven years to rebuild.
* The owners of buildings who had the wisdom and foresight to earthquake strengthen their property are applauded. These remained standing despite the tremors.
* All wooden buildings survived. However, those with brick chimneys lost them as they crumbled.
* A magnificent marble wall has been built as a memorial to the 158 people who died during and as a result of the quake. It’s been poignantly placed adjacent to the River Avon.
Once again we’re reminded to treasure the lives we have and the people we love. None of us knows what’s just around the corner. It was absolutely fabulous to spend time with Monique again. Another special friend.
2/ The 2019 Christchurch Mosque Shootings
I was as guilty as anyone in believing New Zealand couldn’t possibly be the victim of a terror attack. Sitting low in the Southern Hemisphere quietly minding its own business. Why would anyone feel the urge to attack it?
Sadly the world of humans has always had an undercurrent of sadistic racists living amongst us. It feels as though this is becoming more prevalent with the far-right politics and abhorrent ‘White Supremacist’ narrative being whipped up in social media.
On 15th March 2019, people were murdered in a terrifying attack by an Australian terrorist. The people of Christchurch must’ve thought wtf! Why us again? Haven’t we suffered enough already? It’s abominable to me that any human being could contemplate such an evil act.
“New Zealand has been considered a safe and tolerant place with low levels of gun violence and was named the second most peaceful country in the world by Global Peace Index in 2019, the year of the attacks. This attack was the first mass shooting in the country since the Raurimu massacre in 1997. Prior to that, the deadliest public mass shooting was the 1990 Aramoana massacre, in which 13 people died.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christchurch_mosque_shootings
One of the things that impressed me most abut Jacinda’s response to this atrocity, was her stance on never saying the shooter’s name. What DID happen was a swift new law banning semi-automatic weapons.
“On 21 March, she announced a ban, adding that she was working to have legislation in place as early as 11 April. As a transitional measure, from 3:00 pm that day, some semi-automatic rifles and shotguns were classified as requiring the owner to hold a licence with an “E” endorsement. “After a reasonable period for returns, those who continue to possess these firearms will be in contravention of the law,” Radio New Zealand reported.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christchurch_mosque_shootings
Additionally and importantly, contrary to this evil persons motives of separation, the atrocity brought people closer together than ever before.
“‘We are one’ was a notion that swept like a wave across the country. In the af”termath of the shooting, New Zealanders echoed the words by not just etching it on cards, signs and tributes, but by standing together in solidarity, donning hijabs and welcoming Muslims into their homes and lives. “We’re all brothers and sisters,” Zayd Blissett says. “Some Muslims around the world forget that, but anyway, it’s still very much alive here in New Zealand.””https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2019/04/brokenhearted/
Take that you bastard and all excuses-for-human-beings-white-supremesists out there!
South Island Adventures
Jamie’s partner, Nate, has a five-year-old daughter Jasmine. There were a couple of day-tour-treats in store for us with them all. We didn’t realise when we booked this trip, that it was a long- weekend for Christchurch. How lucky it meant we got three full days with Jamie.
We did the maze and crazy golf; the hot springs; and a rather massive (for us!) walk up Conical Hill. I was hopeless at taking photos all day. Thankfully Barry was brilliant. Check out his slideshow at the end again for some breathtaking scenery
Having been cajoled into walking up Conical Hill, I almost gave up halfway. Almost five-year-old Jasmine decided the only way I’d get to the top would be if she assisted. Which she frequently did. Holding my hand and pulling me to share some of her young energy. The 360 degree summit views made it all worthwhile.
It was rather a long way to drive for a day trip, though well worthwhile. We returned to Jamie’s place in the late evening shattered but happy.
Jumping Off Another Hill
Jasmine wanted to show us one of her ‘secret’ places on Saturday. Unfortunately, it involved more hill walking! Thankfully not nearly as much as the previous day. In a kind of optical illusion there appear to be people jumping off the top of a hill.
I’d been let in on the ‘secret’ already, so had Barry, but we played along. Of course we all had to descend the slide at the top. I admit to being a little cautious until I saw that it wasn’t nearly as long as I’d feared! Once again the views were magnificent, this time of Christchurch from The Port Hills and Victoria Park.
Our Inaugral TimTam Slams
Has anyone reading heard of a TimTam Slam? We had no idea what this was, but we’re persuaded to try. TomTams were purchased on the journey to the secret hill. Afterwards we headed to a delightful cafe/bar/restaurant that looks like a castle, called ‘Sign Of The Takahe‘, to be shown the secret slam.
There was a perfect pohutakawa tree in the garden. They’re finally beginning to bloom. Christmas can’t be too far away.
It was a hilarious experience! There’s definitely a knack to it to prevent a TimTam smash never mind slam. Jasmine then lead each of us individually to yet another secret spot for stupendous views.
In a nutshell, you bite the corner off opposing sides first. Then dip one corner into the drink (mine was a flat white). And suck … The drink comes up the TimTam centre, bringing with it whatever is there. Delicious! Watch out though with a hot drink as the TimTam turns to mush rapidly.
Update on NBAreandare
NBAreandare was supposed to be taken out of the water on Monday, to have her hull grit blasted, zinc coated, and double-epoxy’d. Although it’s an expensive job, we feel it’s worthwhile as the hull should be sound for up to ten years.
Sadly due to ‘circumstances’, this has once again been delayed. Hopefully, it’ll happen around the end of the month. She’ll then sit out on hard standing until we return to England. At this stage, we have absolutely no idea when that return may be. Unsurprisingly, neither of us are in any rush …
As always, click on the first image to reveal another gorgeous slide-show from Barry. This includes a few photos from a brief visit to the new Christchurch library and a couple of delightful poses by Jamie’s dog Ewok :