Christchurch: rising from the rubble

After a smooth and uneventful flight yesterday we touched down at Christchurch Airport. I'd hoped to grab a shot of the Southern Alps as we crossed, but unfortunately the long white cloud obscured them. The land when it came into view looked surprisingly brown and dry, not at all like the green New Zealand I'd come to expect after previous tours.

Quickly clearing immigration and quarantine controls, I went straight to the Vodafone kiosk and within 10 minutes had a working phone. Then jumped onto a waiting shuttle and I was on my way into the city.

Despite expecting to see a greatly damaged city, it still came as a shock. There are very few of the original buildings remaining in the city centre, and it was difficult to get my bearings even though I'd become quite familiar with the layout on my previous visit.

It was late afternoon by the time I had checked in to my hotel, and I immediately set about assembling the bike. After two hours I was done, and realising that I had missed lunch, headed off looking for somewhere to eat. I didn't find anything, it seems there are precious few remaining of the many city eateries that were here last visit, and even fewer open in the evening. I ended up dining back at the hotel restaurant.

This morning I headed off on a mission to obtain of few supplies, and then to have a look around. The supermarket I'd found last visit survived the earthquake and after a little time wandering around unfamiliar shelves I had everything needed, and set off to explore.

The city centre on a Sunday morning is a pretty desolate place. There are many empty blocks, and the few building to remain standing either await demolition or renovation and are unoccupied. In between, new buildings are rising - earthquake resistant steel frames sitting on isolation blocks. There is a long way to go before the city is restored to the vibrant place I found on my first vist.

In the midst of the desolation, the Restart Mall stands out - a shopping mall built out of shipping containers, and full of life and colour.

I finished my explorations with a loop on the city tram service. It's a sobering ride, and despite the tram driver's enthusiastic description of the rebuilding plans, it seems likely a full recovery is going to take years.

Tomorrow the tour commences. The weather has been fine and the forecast looks favourable for the next few days, then some rain is expected to develop. I'll be heading for Springfield, where there is apparently a very large donut.

No comments:

Post a Comment