We weren’t in a rush, so we took the scenic route from Twizel to Christchurch, not as spectacular as other parts of South Island, but pretty none the less. We had a couple of nice stops and had lunch in a little village watching the cricket!
When we met up with the landlady of our apartment for the next 2 nights, it turns out she was originally from Ilford, and born in the same hospital as me (it’s a small world).
We explored Christchurch on the Sunday, and it was a miserable day, so we didn’t see the city in its best light, but since the 2011 earthquake hit, the city is in a terrible state. In parts I can only imagine this was what citiies were like in the blitz.
There were many abandoned buildings, waiting for thier turn to be demolishhed, and there ware many empty lots where buildings used to be, waiting for someone to come along and ressurect them.
But life goes on and the cardboard cathedral is a testament to what people can achieve when nature throws an earthquake at you. A small church built mainly of cardboard (but industrial engineered cardboard, not the sort you or I would get from Tesco). It was a buzzing church with people coming and going, all very upbeat and enthusiastic!
Just opposite the cathedral there is an installation of empty white chairs, each one representing a person who died during the tragedy (185 in total)
There are a few community areas in the devestation, and the restart mall, a small shopping complex with shops housed in old containers.
But, the city is recovering. They are taking their time to rebuild so what they rebuild is firstly safe for earthquakes, and also to take advantage of the opportunity to re shape the city into something special, a chance few cities get to do!
Next day the weather was much improved and we saw it in sunlight, we walked along the beautiful Avon river to the botanic gardens where we had tea and cake in the Sun before heading to our airport hotel for our flight early next morning.
We’re really sad to leave New Zealand, a really amazing place, and it has started to feel like we were on a slow journey home, and we have no desire to come home yet!
One thing about Christchurch as a last note, there is some really amazing street art, I love this kind of thing and have posted a few examples of it below.