Six years ago – before the Christchurch quakes – we did our first house swapping trip to New Zealand and loved it. In Christchurch we stayed in
two different homes. Both were damaged in the quakes but one more severely than the other due in part to liquefaction and it is only
just starting to be rebuilt. It’s been a tough few years for our house swapper friend… We walked past the house yesterday and attempted our favourite walk from that time – along the River Avon into the city.
Parts were as we remembered it, but the city centre took a real hit in the quakes and there is still a lot of building work going on with areas of the river cordoned off. It looks as if it will be some time yet before it feels like the popular leafy track of six years ago.
Yesterday evening in Christchurch we experienced our first quake. Everything in the house started rattling and we looked at each other and said something inane like ‘This is a quake isn’t it?’ It only lasted a few seconds but it was quite unnerving. When is was over I was very conscious of the noise of any traffic outside, wondering if there would be more. Looking it up on the GeoNet it was a 4.4: classed as ‘moderate’.
I say it was the first one we’ve experienced – there have been some others but we haven’t been aware of them. Apparently you don’t feel the smaller ones if you are out walking. When we were here in January friends texted to ask if we’d felt ‘a 4.1’; we’d been in the park and hadn’t noticed anything, but when we got back to the house a photo frame had fallen off a shelf and smashed.
In mid-February, when we were in Wellington, there was a strong earthquake here in Christchurch (5.9) when part of the cliff in Sumner collapsed. Fortunately no one was badly hurt, but it brings back all the anxieties for everyone. It’s 5 years since ‘the big one’ and until the last month or so they had more or less petered out. However, these recent quakes are apparently all still aftershocks and seismologists say it’s quite likely there will be a larger one within the next year before things really start to quieten down…