Forty years ago, my younger sister and I drove around the South Island of New Zealand. Marianne and I decided to do the trip and we arranged to do a housestay with a lovely couple in Christchurch who like to tango. They made us really welcome and we served us a delicious dinner with plenty of NZ wine.
We asked questions about the earthquakes and they told us about their experiences. Fortunately their house suffered only minimal damage but some of their neighbours had damage particularly liquification in their gardens.
The next morning we parked in the downtown to walk around and view the damage that was mostly caused by the February 2011 earthquake. Our hosts said that about 80% of the downtown area would need to be pulled down and replaced.
Whole streets have been blocked off.
One building left standing. It's neighbouring buildings are now just empty lots.
Chairs to represent the 185 people who died. This is one of the 'pop ups' that have popped up around the city to mark either the earthquake or to encourage locals to rebuild for the future.
We noticed a group of Japanese school children emerging from this structure and wondered if this was the cardboard cathedral.
And we were correct. This structure replaces the cathedral downtown which was badly damaged.
The roof is made of cardboard cylinders with an outer layer of plastic roofing. It is very effective.
The cardboard cylinders which seem to be about 18 inches in diameter.
Small chapel enclosed with smaller cylinders.
The plastic roofing.
The building has now become a major tourist attraction and really marks the rebirth of the city.
Probably everything you see in this photo is closed and will need to be demolished. Even the parking garage on the right is empty.
Lo and behold! A Morgan sports car. It looks like the Super Sports three wheeler. I had a ride in a Morgan back in the early eighties and it was quite a bumpy experience. It would have been really fun to drive.
Art on the side of a building.
The empty parking garage.
Containers used to stabilized the historic front of this building.
Somne buildings suffered minimal damage and are open for business. To be honest, not much seems to be going on downtown except for construction. The streets have very little traffic.
An exhibit for children inside a container.
I think the blue buildings are the damaged buildings.
Art exhibit in an empty lot.
Notice the windows are boarded up. This building will presumably be demolished.
The Cathedral. It's spire fell down and initially it was thought had trapped a few people.
The trams are not running.
This will have to be demolished.
Another closed building.
Containers are really quite useful.
Artwork being painted.
After 40 years my memory of Christchurch is fairly dim but I have been back to European cities after 39 years and could find my way around. I had no hope here because most of the landmarks are gone or have become unrecognizable. I do remember that it was a beautiful city that looked more English than England. Not any more.
Many people have left to make new lives elsewhere. Unfortunately, earthquakes can occur anywhere in New Zealand.