I lived in Christchurch for a brief time over the summer of 2003/2004, when I was in NZ as a working-holiday backpacker. I shared a small substandard apartment with a Canadian guy named Logan, and two secretive Chinese students named Beibei and Mung. That summer was perfect, and I felt as if I was living on borrowed time while everyone back in the northern hemisphere was freezing in the ice and snow. I worked in a surf/skate shop on the corner of Lichfield and Colombo streets, skated the best park in NZ almost daily, met a lot of nice people, and enjoyed the consistent sunshine that bathed the east coast of the South Island that summer. I will always have excellent memories of that time in my life.
Then on February 22nd, 2011 news came out that a serious earthquake had hit Christchurch. Buildings came down all over the city, and 185 people died. These were dark days for my city of sunshine.
I have been back to Christchurch a few times since the 2011 earthquake, and each time it seems to be getting better, but there is still a lot of earthquake damage to be seen around the downtown area.
This past weekend I travelled down from Auckland and skated around the city to check it out a bit more. At times, I couldn’t tell where I was because there are almost no familiar landmarks left. Other times I was confused because the street signs told me that I was somewhere familiar, but I almost couldn’t believe it because it looked so different.
Christchurch is currently getting rebuilt, and thankfully it is getting done properly. Once everything is reconstructed and in compliance with strict building codes, Christchurch will be a sustainable city of the future that will be largely resistant to any future earthquakes (I was told that experts think it is unlikely that another one will hit like it did in 2011). As a result of the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch received what many other cities would presumably like to have: a clean slate on which to create and realise a new vision.
(click photos below to view slideshow).