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Day 18: Christchurch

Day 18 - Friday 08 March – The city that rose again...

Last day in New Zealand. We had a relatively laid-back morning in so far as we didn't leave Akaroa until 9 o'clock. We packed our bags ready for flying, had breakfast in our room and eventually loaded up the bus for one last trip, to a very wet and rainy Christchurch. It's a shame that much discussion of the city tends to revolve around the earthquake. I wish I could have seen it prior to that. There are still signs of the destructive event in empty building plots, cracks; and damage to buildings that have been condemned and are fenced off, waiting to be demolished.  These sit alongside brand spanking new ‘quake-proof graded’ commercial and industrial structures. One thing to remember is that the earthquake affected the areas surrounding Christchurch for quite a number of miles. But these areas didn't fall within the compensation zone and many communities lost a lot of property and money. The other thing to remember is that many people in the earthquake zone lost their homes and were not allowed to go back to salvage anything for health, safety and security reasons. Some of those property owners struggled to gain access to their own homes in order to retrieve objects of sentimental value (and monetary value); things like photos, jewellery and heirlooms etc.. Many damaged buildings, including the cathedral, can still be seen. In true Christchurch spirit, a temporary ‘cardboard cathedral’ has been erected; made out of very robust thick recycled cardboard tubes, bolstered by laminated timber and reinforced steel. It’s a very hopeful building; described by visitors as light and ‘airy’. It was designed by Japanese Architect, Shigeru Ban. It’s very impressive; full of hope.


My tribute to Christchurch...

I was in awe of the spirit of the people in Christchurch; and how in the face of adversity, time and time again, they pull together. Where bad things leave empty spaces, sadness and heartache; determination, creativity and love moves in. I wish the city and all the people who live there all the positivity the Universe has to offer. Keep the faith, you're all amazing.


Gabi drove us on around the city pointing out Christchurch College a boys’ school (that does now admit girls). She also showed us the very beautiful stone built Canterbury Museum buildings and the new Botanic Garden visitor centre where non-native species of plants are allowed and will be appreciated! (Excuse the irony…) We eventually said our reluctant goodbyes as Gabi left us back at a local hotel where the tour ended and we dropped our baggage there so that we could go off on our own and explore Christchurch some more. Jeff and I went back to the museum to see the Scott and Shackleton Antarctic exhibition; and the Antarctic dog exhibition. I was mindful that lots of dogs died in the Antarctic due to human exploration and at times desperation. (Some dogs were eaten.) I'm glad the dogs' contributions were remembered.


Later on a taxi picked three of us up from the hotel and took us to Christchurch Airport where Jeff and I began our epic voyage back to the UK via Sydney and Dubai. We were very sad to leave such an amazing land; but I did look forward to seeing Mum and Bob-cat...


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