February 19, 2015 by bck1402
In 1996, I first arrived in Christchurch to what was the worst snowstorm in three years. A few days later as I travelled by bus to Wanaka, the bus got stuck in the snow along the Canterbury plains for a few hours. We had to wait for a second bus to help cart us out and take an alternate route to Wanaka, arriving over five hours late. About a year later, I stopped by Christchurch again on my way back to Penang. It was lush and beautiful city.
In 2011 on February 22, Christchurch experienced its second and most devastating earthquake. On this trip, I wanted to see how much Christchurch had recovered. The trip from Wanaka to Christchurch took almost seven hours with a lunch stop at the Mt John Observatory over looking Lake Tekapo. it was a nice rainy day (some might say, “gloomy” but it was nice to me) but the weather also obscured Mount Cook… so no pics of that.
The first thing I wanted to check out in Christchurch was The 185 Empty Chairs and the Cardboard Cathedral. The 185 Empty Chairs is a memorial to the 185 people who died during that earthquake and the Transitional Cardboard Cathedral is meant to be a temporary structure in place of the main cathedral that was damaged during the earthquake. The Cathedral is propped up with these beams made of cardboard, which are then encased in a plastic covering to protect them from the elements.
The next day, joined in a free walking tour of the city. Our guide, Michael, took us through some history while reflecting on the impact of the earthquake and the plans for the future. And yeh, we also dropped by The 185 Chairs and the Cathedral… But there was more too. One of the projects is the Re:Start mall, a shopping mall area made up of shipping containers to accommodate the shops that lost their premises (what was once Manners Mall) during the quake. The tram that once circled the main parts of the city was just recently put back into use and more tracks have been laid to accommodate different routes.
The walking tour is super highly recommended and it starts from the Millennium Chalice at 11am.
The main Christchurch Cathedral is still in a state as there have been some issues over its status. The caretakers want to tear it down and build a new church but the general public prefer to have it restored to its glory. It’s what the city was known, and named, for.
The rebuilding continues as the main Arts Center is now the focus. It’s located across from the YMCA where I stayed on my first trip, and where I got to watch Microcosmos on a large screen. Across the road on the other side is the Botanical Garden and Museum. The museum has changed – obviously – over the last 18 years, with a focus more towards the local history. Despite that, there is an Earthquake Museum across the Re:Start mall.
That was the day trip, and the next day was the journey back to Wanaka, with a stop along the east coast where the Moeraki Boulders are. These strange boulders are only on one particular part along the whole stretch of the beach and… you can get more information here. I kept calling it Moeraki Beach, but it’s actually Koekohe Beach. Moeraki is a little fishing town a little ways along the coast. We had dinner there at Fleur’s Place. No one corrected me on Facebook or Instagram.
The boulders looked like eggs, especially when it was broke in half…
After dinner was the leg back into Wanaka, traveling across the Central Otago area from Palmerston where we barely saw any cars in either direction. This was between 8:30pm to 11:45 pm when we finally arrived at home base.
Finally, just for comparison sake… Two wide-pan shots of Koekohe Beach from the same position, one with the Sony Xperia Ion and the other with the iPad.