Time for an #AddVenture in Christchurch and to explore in the #sunshine ☀️☀️☀️
During my time at Mahuki, I had met a girl called Flic who runs the independent Re:Edit Publishing company in Christchurch.
At the end of January, I decided to take a break from Wellington for a long weekend and so I headed to Christchurch for the ‘locals’ tour of the city and surrounding area.
I flew from Wellington down to Christchurch on one of the first flights of the day to make the most out of the long weekend. Flic greeted me at the airport and showed me the way into the city, and to her place where I’d be staying. After leaving her to work for the day, I headed into the city centre to explore.
I started off slow with, a popular recommendation from friends, brunch at the C1 Espresso café. While there, I read up about ChCh, it’s history and the great places to explore in Flic’s book AddVenture.
Luckily, the day turned sunny so I spent my time walking around the city and seeing the sights. Check out some of my highlights below.
With a few tonnes worth of breeze blocks holding it up… it’s somehow still standing albeit, as you can see from this side view, (very) worse for wear. Turns out, the cathedral was actually damaged more when the tower collapsed through the pulpit from one of the aftershocks than from the initial quake itself.
I found out in my reading that the cathedral in its current state can’t legally be demolished/deconstructed until the church commits to build a new cathedral… and because of how unstable the shakes rendered the structure it’s held behind lots of fencing and containers.
aka the ‘Cardboard Cathedral’…
Honestly, this doesn’t feel as though it should be temporary, despite how much of the interior is made from cardboard… It’s a pretty stunning building, towering up in a Toblerone sort-of shape, with the front windows producing a stained-glass effect inside.
Spires – Neil Dawson
While walking around, I spotted a park opposite the Transitional Cathedral. Close to the centre is a beautiful hanging art piece by Neil Dawson, created as a tribute to the Cathedral spire with only drawings from memory as reference before the sculpture was created.
185 Chairs Memorial – Pete Majendie
Along the road from the Transitional Cathedral is a touching (although currently) temporary memorial to the 185 victims of the 2011 quake, just across the road from the site where 115 people died.
Passing Time – Anton Parsons
Weaving its way from pavement to sky was installed in Christchurch a few months before the 2011 quake. It was created as a part of SCAPE, a public art initiative to connect community and art.
The Sound Garden
One of the regeneration initiatives in Christchurch, Gap Filler, have created projects around the city like this one. The Sound Garden uses materials from the demolished or broken buildings to create ‘spontaneous’ music.
Think Differently, Book Exchange
Another project from Gap Filler ChCh, encouraging visitors and locals alike to exchange books…
One thing I didn’t catch on camera was the Re:Start Mall, in the city centre. Honestly, it reminded me a fair bit of London’s BoxPark in Shoreditch… not quite as developed commercially, but with the potential to be built up and a great casual place for locals and tourists alike to hang out.
As if ChCh doesn’t have enough of it’s own broken remains to show off… they also have this sculpture as a tribute to firefighters worldwide, with steel from the remains of the 9/11 attacks were gifted from the New York World Centre, to commemorate the firefighters who lost their lives.
It was really nice – although also really strange… the city itself reminds me of the images from war-torn countries that are starting to recover and rebuild, with buildings in different stages of demolition or build… Which is quite odd as the ‘big’ quake was around 8 years ago now. But the local government estimates that of the 80% of buildings that were damaged (beyond repair) at the time, only around 10–15% of these have been successfully demolished or rebuilt now!
Since so few of the affected buildings have been dealt with, many in a dismal state – water logged, foundations broken… it seems that residents and other organisations have done what they can to make the areas still appealing, with colourful graffiti and gardens around the city.
Typically, it wasn’t until the end of the day that I discovered Christchurch has a City Tour tram…
Oh well, my feet were aching from walking 23.7 km but it was well worth it – and time for a rest. Flic had finished her work so joined at the right time, to headed to get some gelato in the sun.
On the Saturday, Flic and I headed to a place called Sumner, about 15km from Christchurch out on the coast, which is apparently really good for surfing. After stopping for a nice brunch we headed out of the town to do one of the crater walks.
Cliff track around the Tauhinu-Korokio Reserve, with a quick stop to look out over the nearby town of Lyttelton.
And on the Sunday headed to ‘New Brighton’ – which also has a pier!
It wasn’t such a nice day there, with raging wind and a fair few showers… a bit reminiscent of the weather last time I was in Brighton in the UK.
The bus to New Brighton takes you straight through the ‘red’ zone. This is where the earthquake (and any future ones) had most effect and damage. All that there is now, is fields either side of the road, but the pavements show where houses used to be, with the dips for driveways… It’s odd to see how fast mother nature can reclaim areas!
At the bus station on the way back, I noticed that there were some buses headed to a familiar destination… Belfast! Obviously not the Belfast that I know – I’m not sure how long a bus going 18,000 km including some ocean crossings would take…
Back in Christchurch city, we stopped at C1 Espresso café to shelter from the wind and rain with some curly fries. C1’s curly fries are a little bit special too, they are delivered to your table via pneumatic tubes :o)
They even almost got my name right…
And you can read more about my previous adventures here.