Christchurch: the missing city

Cathedral and City Centre
 It's two and half years since the September quake in Christchurch.  I was there, in the centre of the city and walked round the streets, in a state of shock, in the hours following the quake.   This is my first visit since and we spent a day walking round the streets you're still allowed to walk down, looking at the devastation.

Many buildings have already been bulldozed, and the ones that are left are waiting for demolition.  Some of them look OK, but when you go closer you can see the cracks, or the unnatural tilt of the walls.  In some cases, the buildings were brand new before the quake, but floors and concrete beams are cracked right through.
 I don't think the rest of the world really knows what it's like for the residents here - they've all moved on after the initial shock.  But shops, wine bars, businesses, restaurants, swimming pools, libraries and other amenities have all vanished - ordinary life has changed for ever.
Every pile of rubble represents someone's life or livelihood

An older, historic building they're trying to preserve.

I visited friends who are living in rented houses - quake damaged, but not so damaged as their own houses and they're still waiting to have them either replaced or repaired.  Lives in limbo.  Others have lost businesses or jobs.  Many have moved away.  I met a woman who was too frightened to come into the city at all and only shops on the perimeter.

This row of houses has fallen despite attempts to shore up the shattered buildings.
 The re-start project was interesting - a whole street of shops and coffee bars set up in brightly painted containers.
You can hardly believe it's all containers!
 They use containers for everything here - even just blocking the roads to protect from rockfalls.

Sumner beach used to be my favourite place.  Now many of the houses are abandoned as unsafe, and some of them have ended up at the bottom of the cliff, or are left suspended, like bombed out houses in a war zone.

But the most poignant is the site of the CTV building where so many people died.  There are flowers and tributes tied to the fence and on the other side of the road, chairs are set out - one chair for each person who died.


  1. Most of the damage, of course, is from the February 2011 quake, not the September one. Not that it changes much!
    Every so often I go in to town and am struck by how much has disappeared - buildings that were there a month or two ago and have now vanished. It's good to see the occasional new building appear among the levelled sites.

  2. How terribly sad...
    Yet how resilient the Christchurch residents must be to stay.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts