Tears in Akaroa

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April 17th 2017
Published: April 21st 2017
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18th March Akaroa

Cruising into this historic town, you can see why Captain James Cook thought it was an Island.

Naming it Banks Peninsula in 1770 after the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, it was formed by two giant volcanic eruptions. Harbours and bays radiate out giving it an unusual cogwheel shape.

Akaroa is 80km from Christchurch and is used by cruise ships as a tender port since the devastating earthquakes in 2011.

The town is a picturesque colonial place and was originally settled by the French.

However following the Treaty of Waitangi it became part of the British Crown.

Again the town celebrates its heritage, the French influence remains and is visible in many of the street names and the wooden slatted Mediterranean style houses.

We had plans today, firstly to get off Victoria as soon as possible. We were meeting Frederick Smith (John to his friends), who we met cruising last year.

They had called in to see us in Worcester for the day and we took them round the Faithful city as well as treating them to a 'Pensioners' lunch (in joke)

Anyway, John was waiting on the quayside in the drizzling rain to whizz us to Christchurch, and as we left Akaroa we left the rain behind.

This gave us snapshot of Banks Peninsula with views out onto Governor's Bay and looking down on Lyttleton Harbour.

Southeast of Christchurch, the Port Hills look down on Lyttleton Harbour where the first settlers landed in 1850, the town was badly damaged during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Many of the towns heritage buildings were demolished but Lyttleton has reemerged as a artsy, independent town with a bohemian vibe (I sound like a tour guide).

This was the cruise terminal but seems to have Akaroa as a worthy substitute.

We noticed from our viewpoint on the Hills that larger container ships were still departing from here.

There is obviously some major concerns with regard to having a cruise terminal sited here.

From here John showed where the fires had taken hold during our time in the North Island. The hill above Christchurch was badly affected. The guys that fight these fires do an incredible job and there was the loss of a helicopter pilot which was pretty devastating to all.

Down to Christchurch to meet up with Jackie for a bite of lunch, before heading out for whistle stop tour of the city.

Christchurch is in transition, the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 devastated the city, we were in Australia at the time and followed the disaster closely.

It was the second earthquake on 22 February 2011 that caused the most damage and loss of life.

It occurred when central Christchurch was full of shoppers and workers were enjoying lunch.

Not having ever experienced an earthquake you cannot imagine that 24 seconds could inflict so much damage.

In that short space of time New Zealand's second largest city changed forever, the Cathedral lay in ruins (and still is), 185 people died (20 different nationalities) of which 115 occurred in the six storey Canterbury TV building. This was an international language school.

Elsewhere in the city, entire neighbourhoods were devastated as rapid liquefaction saw ground turned into quagmires!!

Now, and in the months that followed there are still aftershocks but as our hosts readily agreed, Catabrians are resilient and brave.

There is a huge rebuild program here and over the next 20 or so years the city will rise (although low rise) into a compact populace with large green spaces, parks and cycle ways along the Avon river.

Some of the stories that John & Jackie (J & J) told about the disaster and people were amazing.

The 'Farmy Army' from the rural heartland came into the city armed with shovels and food hampers.

A Student Volunteer Army, mobilised by social media became a vital force for residential clean ups, particularly in the beleaguered Eastern suburbs.

It was hard to believe what the people of Christchurch were going through and are still going through as the rebuild continues.

It is an English city, with the River Avon flowing through it, but it's the street names that are so English. We crisscrossed Gloucester, Worcester, Lichfield, Hereford and Manchester Streets to name but a few.

With Cambridge and Oxford Terrace running alongside the River Avon.

What to do in two hours, a look at the Cathedral, still being held up by the scruff of the neck by scaffolding, a drive by Hagley Park where events and outdoor concerts are held during the summer months and the Transition Cathedral, also known as the Cardboard Cathedral because of 98 cardboard used in its construction.

This temporary construction is a concert hall as well as the Anglican Cathedral. The entire building was constructed in 11 months.

More sobering was were the suburbs designated as 'Red Zones' where everything has been demolished and will never be built on due to the liquefaction.

These areas will now revert to parklands.

So a quick tour, but how proud are the Cantabrians, yes a lot of people left the area but the majority remain.

They will rebuild the city and seem resilient enough to take all that nature throws at them and more!!!

Then back to Akaroa and the ship with a couple of photstops on the way.

A shame to miss out on the town but there a few photos of the area.

Sad to see J&J waving from the pier (and it was cold) as we tendered back to Victoria wandering when we may see them again.

I'm sure there were tears in their eyes when we left. Or was that the icy wind and cold!!!!

Additional photos below
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