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Published: November 24th 2018
The wrecked Cathedral
The supports were installed after the first quake but the second one did the real damage
(Cj writes) We drove from Kaikoura (sleepy, nature-tourist-oriented, fish and chip restaurants) to Christchurch (‘ChCh’) today through the ridiculously green and vertiginous hills and narrow valleys of South Island. ChCh suffered a devastating earthquake in 2011, from which it is still recovering. (How severe? apparently South Island is now 5 metres closer to North Island!). We knew this, yet we were still taken aback by the sheer number of empty lots in the city centre. Now grassed over, or used as car parking, they remain a stark reminder of the human impact of the quake: about 80% of city centre buildings have been or are due for demolition. Many more buildings - some venerable, some much more recent - are propped up to a greater or lesser extent. The newer ones in particular may be destined for demolition, but many contain asbestos within their structures, making even that challenging. ChCh is rebuilding: my assumption is that new buildings (of which there are a great many already) will have been built to withstand all but the most severe quakes - perhaps using the technology we saw used underneath the Te Papa museum in Wellington (basically the building stands on huge blocks of
rubber reinforced with steel and lead). SC adds - Today we visited the "Quake City Exhibition". Very intersting stuff about what actually happened, liquifation and so on and some genuinely moving video testimonies from local people affected by the most recent quake. I'm wary of being a disaster tourist but ChCh really is a very intestesting place, unlike anywhere else in the world. Some of the ruins still standing are scarry, the scale of the empty (cleared) lots dismaying but some of the new building are fab and the are clearly going to be some major improvemens over time. Cj again....The city is clearly optimistic. There is scaffolding and active building all over the place, and today we noticed that an area on the river bank had been newly paved around flower beds which are being planted, and people were sweeping up: it looked as though that area might even reopen while we’re here. (SC adds. We learned today that this new riverside walk beside the Avon River, which runs right through the city, opens officially tomorrow.) And I gather there are more shipping containers here than you can shake a stick at - they’re being used to house pop-up
shops, provide support to failing buildings, to stop lanslips and the like.
Steve is overjoyed ("make that quite pleased") to discover that the tram system doesn’t just run near our hotel - it runs through it! Well, nearly ... we can look down through the glass roof of the terminus from our bedroom window. (It's a small network and a nice fleet of 6 legacy trams). And there’s a huge secondhand cd shop within a long walking distance. I’ve located a used book shop, and there’s a bead shop round the corner too! There's a large botonic garden too which we have part done...
Hopping for good weather tomorrow but the forecast is for rain...
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