Saturday, January 21, 2012


We are flying out of Christchurch airport tomorrow, so we are here for the night.  I haven't known what to expect in Christchurch. - everything I heard seemed to talk about the city before the 2011 earthquake.   

The city, especially the city center, has been completely devastated.  We spent most of the afternoon walking around and it is so easy to see that Christchurch used to be an absolutely charming and bustling city.  I can imagine that it would have been my favorite city in NZ - a tram system in the city center, the Avon River, and several huge parks.  We weren't able to see much.  The city center is fenced off as a red zone.  But you can see the damage everywhere - buildings with scaffolding covering them, huge cranes, and crumbled buildings everywhere.  We never really saw anyone working in the red zone and it was hard to tell if people were rebuilding or just demolishing. With so many aftershocks since the initial quake, it seems like people maybe can't decide what to do.  As David said, it felt a bit like we were on a movie set. 

There were a few good things that we saw.  There is an organization called Re:Start that has built a pedestrian mall and shopping area in a corner of the old city center.  The stores and restaurants were constructed from shipping containers painted in bright colors  There were several signs on businesses saying "we are glad to be back," but there were just as many offering spiritual or counseling services for people who are grieving or asking for help and donations.  We had a great lunch and dinner and enjoyed some live music, but I leave here feeling such sadness for the city and the people.


A section of the red zone - the old Christchurch Cathedral can be seen in the background

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