Monday, 3 December 2012

NZ travelogue: The 2011 devastation in Christchurch

So there we were, my wife and I being led by my old chess friend, Alan, into the centre of earthquake-hit Christchurch, as near as we could possibly get to the city's Central Business District.

All along the way, we were a bit awestruck by the amount of destruction to the buildings. We could imagine how much people's lives had been changed by the earthquake. It's not only the destruction, which was so widespread.

We stopped by the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Clearly, this was a very impressive building but it was now in ruins. Two of the domes had collapsed but there was still one dome basking proudly in the early afternoon sun. Just next to the cathedral, the Music Centre of Christchurch had also been affected.

We parked at Cashel Street and walked towards the Bridge of Remembrance. We crossed the Avon River. In happier times, people used to enjoy punting along the river. While we were there, all such activities had ground to a halt, including the tram service. We walked up to the barricade and peered into the distance. We could see the Hotel Grand Chancellor, once the city's tallest building. It survived the first earthquake in 2010 but after the tremblor in February 2011, it was shut down for good and would be demolished. I hear that it has been brought down totally by May this year.

We walked along the river bank towards Worcester Boulevard. More destruction everywhere we turned, such as this building:

We stopped at the Boulevard and looked into the CBD. Beyond the barricade on the left was the destroyed Municipal Chambers.

In the distance was all that remained of the Anglican Cathedral of Christchurch. Its most well-known features, the tower and spire on the building's left, had been reduced to rubble. I hear that until today, the whole building is still being dismantled slowly amidst opposition from groups that included the UNESCO world heritage centre.

After this, I told Alan, "Well, enough is enough. We came here hoping to see the happy side of Christchurch but instead, this is the unfortunate side of the city." My wife and I really hope that the city can recover fast from the earthquakes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting up the pictures. Fond memories of my formative years in this most English city in the southern hemisphere.

Knowing the Kiwis, they will rebuilt the city with pride and determination. Napier too had suffered devastation from the 1931 equakequake and was rebuilt into a fine Art Deco city.

I am sure, before long, Christchurch will return to her formal tranquil-English-Garden-City status.