Three Years after the Quakes…
This is our first visit to Christchurch since the earthquakes so we were expecting to be shocked…
Walking into town we recognised everything at first, although there were plenty of empty plots or ‘sections’ where houses or various buildings had stood and renovation work was going on everywhere.
Further into town the empty spaces got bigger and the building sites more numerous. The cathedral was fenced off and just left in its half fallen down state – sad to see.
However, all in all it wasn’t as depressing and shocking as I’d expected. Maybe it helped that there was a buzz of building work going on everywhere on a summer’s day but I got lots of positive vibes. The colourful ‘container’ city on the former main shopping street was vibrant and much more attractive than I’d imagined.
Far less of the city was cordoned off too. Our friend Dave told us that pedestrian access in the centre had improved a lot in the last 6 months or so; empty spaces have been grassed over, there are colourful murals everywhere and even the safety fences have bright designs. It certainly isn’t a ‘no go’ area any longer.
Driving across the city later we passed some ‘red zone’ areas where properties were unsafe and there were streets of abandoned houses and empty ‘sections’. That felt more depressing.
Beside the river, homes which would have been beautiful before the quakes lay derelict. Along the cliffs towards Sumner containers lined the side of the road to protect the traffic from rock falls. Some roads – particularly those going up to the hills – were closed and most were bumpy. Bridges had cracks and many were mid repair.
Our house swap home is just as before (it was damaged but was repaired fairly quickly) but this street – like most – is a mixture of old and new houses, empty spaces and building works.
Later we saw the ‘Cardboard Cathedral’. I don’t know what I expected but it was very different! A large new working building – massive (upside down) V shaped roof with cardboard rolls as part of it. All the services which were held in the cathedral are now held here.