Christchurch Explored

After another dramatic drive crossing back to the east coast via Arthur’s Pass, Lee and I decided to explore Christchurch.  Located in the center of the South Island, the city is NZ’s second largest population center and was previously known as a cultural and university center with a distinctly British flavor (complete with the River Avon lined by Oxford and Cambridge Terraces); sadly, the city was dramatically redefined in 2011 when it was hit by one of NZ’s largest earthquakes, registering 6.3 on the Richter scale and tragically killing 185 people. We started our visit by viewing the recently-dedicated memorial wall, a strikingly simple and beautiful white marble wall listing the names of each of the victims (eerily reminiscent of the Vietnam Memorial).

The quake also caused structural damage to virtually every building in the area, putting the city into major rebuilding mode for the past six years.  While the impact of the quake is still painfully apparent, particularly in the city center…

…at the same time, it was striking to see the innovation, energy, and commitment to rebuilding the city and the community.  This ranged from the “ReSTART” section of the city center, a block of buildings assembled by city leaders shortly after the quake to quickly recreate a thriving commercial center using colorful shipping containers…

…to a beautiful children’s playground that we were told attracts over 1000 kids and parents into the city each weekend, to numerous art projects built on sites still awaiting reconstruction.

The spirit of the city comes across as strongly and amazingly resilient, and not surprisingly, young people and construction workers are everywhere, filling the city parks during lunch time with their bright yellow and orange vests.

img_4318We had rented bikes for our tour around the city, and were able to extend the day for a ride out to Sumner, a beautiful beachfront community along the city’s Pacific coastline.  A great end to another amazing day here!



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