Monday, 16 December 2013

Day 41 Christchurch

This time it wasn’t some sheep, or crazy people getting up at five, nor my alarm that woke me, this time the blame falls squarely on Axel. He’s heading off to Kaikoura meaning he has to check before 10 and for some silly reason that meant I had to be woken up early. After groggily saying goodbye I headed into the centre of Christchurch.

Everyone has told me plenty of times the Christchurch was severely damaged by the earthquakes that shook it a few years ago, and just as many have told me it remains a shell of itself. I still wasn’t prepared for the immense amount of damage that remains. The CBD is none existent. Half the roads remain closed. Empty sites are common and boarded up buildings even more so.

 one of the lovely paintings that decorate the crumbling buildings 

Of course areas are beginning to redevelop themselves but I can’t get over how slowly the process is moving. A lot of blame is being placed on the insurance companies who are taking their time going through cases and taking even longer to get surveyors out to the damaged buildings. But the fact I saw a lot of builders stood around doing very little while they were meant to be working probably isn’t helping matters… regardless of why, there wasn’t a single road that hasn’t been damaged in the city centre, with every corner baring scars of the earthquakes.

I stopped by the re:Start shopping mall. This series of shops made from shipping crates is being branded as the kiwi spirit making-do and improving Christchurch while being creative. I certainly think that’s true to an extent but I found it interesting how much money had been spent in this tiny corner of the city when 50 meters down the road the street was lined with collapsing buildings… What I really liked was the various paintings that dot the city sporadically, they’re inexpensive but add a certain beauty and interest to areas.

My main stop of the day was the Botanical Gardens, as re:Start is actually very small, which remains predominantly unspoiled by the earthquake and was truly beautiful.

 The biggest tree in the garden - it was ridiculously huge!

 The beautiful rose gardens 

 My favourite folklore rose


 The peacock fountain 
 The rock garden and the heather garden
My favorite stop was actually the rose gardens, where I scored a bench and sat reading, surrounded by roses, in the warm sun!
 The sealed art museum
 The remembrance bridge
A lovely gallery I stumbled across
To finish off I headed to the Cathedral, or as everyone here seems to phrase it ‘what’s left of the Cathedral’.

Christchurch was interesting. I’ve never been somewhere where there’s so much damage and destruction. And after walking though the city to re:Start I was feeling pretty cynical, as the tiny shopping centre has been majorly overhyped into represent something it doesn’t. Carrying on walking around the city made me hope though as the city was certainly attempting to rejuvenate itself. I can’t help but agree with everyone who blames the slow progress of terrible mismanagement though. 

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