We started our day in Christchurch by taking a guided tour on an open topped bus. The weather was quite warm, so the perfect way to see the city.
After that we just had a general wander around.
I think I am glad I didn’t see the city when it was in the initial stages after the earthquakes. The first earthquake was in 2010 and the second on 22 February 2011. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. The first stage of recovery was assessing the damage, then the demolition and finally the start of the rebuild.
The earthquake was the largest vertical earthquake ever recorded in the world. It is also the earthquake with the biggest repair bill, being the biggest restoration happening in the world.
There are still lots of building to be demolished, or still being assessed to see if they can be saved.
This is the ruin of a historic picture theatre. Nothing has been done since the earthquake, this is how it landed.
Lots a facades are being held up by containers full of ballast.
The power went out in the earthquake and the stairwell of the below building collapsed, so all the people had to be rescued by abseiling them down the building. It is to be demolished.
The police headquarters are currently being gutted before the building is to be demolished by explosives.
The Anglican Cathedral is a bone of contention at the moment. There are differing views as to whether the building can be saved. The Anglican Church want to demolish it, and even started doing so until an injunction was put in place. It is a case of watch this space as to what ultimately happens.
In the meantime, there is a Transitional Cathedral, more commonly known as the “Cardboard Cathedral”, as the roof structure is made up of cardboard tubes. The side walls are shipping containers and the roof is polycarbonate, which lets the light in. The coloured windows are pictures of the rose window from the original cathedral. It is quite stunning.
The Catholic Cathedral was also badly damaged. It had only been recently restored and they are still assessing if it can be saved or not.
There is a rather moving temporary memorial called the 185 Chairs to remember the 185 who lost their lives.
But, now to the future….
It will take many, many years to recover from the destruction, so initially the city will be rebuilt on a smaller footprint. Some vacant land has been sown to grass to create a green perimeter. More residential areas are being created within the inner areas, to create a vibrant city.
To brighten the vacant areas there are many art installations, called Gap Fillers.
There is so much construction taking place. Every second vehicle seems to belong to a tradesman.
Christchurch was built on a swamp, which is not ideal for an earthquake prone city. Some buildings are having pylons dug 30 metres into the ground. No new building is to exceed 7 stories.
A wonderful place to visit is the Restart Mall. This is a shopping precinct housed in shipping containers. Very innovative and a great place to wander around and grab some lunch.
One of the first areas restored was New Regent Street, which is a lovely old shopping precinct. It has come up a treat and it is great to see some old buildings retained.
And the iconic trams are back on the rails, be it on a shortened route.
There is still so very much to do, and I guess as a tourist we are given the positive spin on things, but it worked, as we came away with a positive outlook for this wonderful city. We would love to visit again in about three to five years time to see what has been achieved in that time.