Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Land of the Long White Cloud - Christchurch, Like a Phoenix.

Christchurch here in the South Island of New Zealand has recently been hit by two substantive earthquakes and after-shocks continue.

In February 2011, a quake killed 185 people. It was centred 2 kilometres west of the Christchurch port-town of  Lyttelton, which perches around the steep edge of an old volcanic caldera. This followed nearly six months after a magnitude 7.1 quake which had already caused significant damage to Christchurch and the central Canterbury region but no out-right deaths.

Many buildings were destroyed by the quakes, including the whole commercial centre of the city and many old stone churches. The ruined cathedral has become a widely-known symbol of the local devastation.

At the time of my visit, most of the rubble has been cleared from the city centre and the roads are mainly  mended, if eccentric in places. The redoubtable spirit of the local people can be seen as they go about their business across this greatly changed landscape which includes many empty blocks in the middle of what was once New Zealand's second most highly populated city.

Lyttleton port today - a busy hub, including for the timber industry.

Poppies bloom among the remaining patches of rubble

Lyttleton Saturday market back in business
Lyttleton from across the water

Moving to Christchurch city itself:

The city continues to mourn.

But there are many symbols of hope.

The city's emblematic trams are again running

Containers have been converted to shops and cafes in the city centre: one for example is a book shop, another sells bread and two have been put together to make a coffee shop with a little Christmas tinsle
The ruined cathedral is surrounded by a Sunday market

An angle watches
Efforts are being made to save the old museum/art gallery
More container shops - note the wonderful sky

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