John & Anne Wiley

2017/02/27

Christchurch Impressions

Several people suggested we skip or even avoid Christchurch on this trip, yet we felt drawn to spend a night there. So after our blissful small plane ride out of Ardmore, we shuffled back into a jet for the first time since the Sydney jaunt. Takeoff provided yet another perspective on the Auckland area, climbing across the bay toward the West coast.

115444 Jet Again

115444 Jet Again

With all the clouds I thought we might not see much, but happily enjoyed many scenic views through broken clouds. Especially over the South Island, like this glimpse of alpine Lake Tennyson about 20 miles North of Hammer Springs.

123834 Lake Tennyson

123834 Lake Tennyson

Soon we were descending over the great turquoise Waimakariri River with Christchurch Int’l (CHC) just below that red tip of our jet fairing at the upper-left.

125242 Waimakariri River

125242 Waimakariri River

The city sprawled below us on the wide plain as our jet turned “base” toward the airport, giving a sense of the setting next to the East coast with snow-capped peaks beyond.

125420 CHC Approach

125420 CHC Approach

After the familiar process of getting to the city center and checked into our hotel, we set out to explore. There seemed to be lots of public art, more graffiti than we’d seen elsewhere in New Zealand, and it was shocking to see so much destruction from the quakes.

173937 Crushed Cathedral

173937 Crushed Cathedral

Behind a fence stood the remains of this large cathedral being heroically rebuilt. Getting closer and walking to the right we could see inside.

174030 Restoring from Rubble

174030 Restoring from Rubble

From the many damaged buildings still standing, most in varying stages of repair, we got hints of the quakes’ power. From all the bare empty large lots among the few high buildings, we got a sense of how different Christchurch looks to locals. From all the construction cranes we could see how many new (and highly quake-resistant) buildings were going into some of those empty lots.

174052 New Construction

174052 New Construction

A few blocks away we found much more public art, and refuge from the rubble, at placid Victoria Square along the relaxing Avon River.

175055 Avon River Relaxation

175055 Avon River Relaxation

Back on the street, we paused to watch this couple practicing their moves at the Dance O Mat.

182951 Dancing in the Streets

182951 Dancing in the Streets

All the destruction seemed to have brought out creativity everywhere and a palpable mix of hope, fear, courage, despair, and some sort of somber resolve among the survivors, and splashed in bright colors on the surviving buildings.

184308 Survivors

184308 Survivors

The streets close around our hotel were colorful and inviting, yet felt strangely quiet as if awaiting more recovery to blossom into something new arising from a great little city.

185135 Quietly Waiting

185135 Quietly Waiting

We were very glad to have visited, yet also glad to spend only a night of our precious time there. Plus we celebrated having decided to fly rather than stick with our plan to drive between cities. It gave us views like this taking off the next day.

20114524 Sprawling Christchurch

20114524 Sprawling Christchurch

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