Christchurch: a changing city

Now that I have been living in Christchurch for the past ten months, there is the temptation to not update my ‘travel’ blog, as I am not travelling as such, and I think seeing as there has been quite a gap at times in some of my entries is testament to that. However, thinking about it I am living in a different city, in a different country, in a different hemisphere altogether, with people of different cultures – why shouldn’t I be writing about it.

I will always remember landing at Christchurch on January 3rd, it was quite grey and a lot colder than Singapore, where I had been 12 hours previous. The main thing I was worried about coming to Christchurch was the aftershocks, following the series of earthquakes. However, after I felt my first shake, and said “was that it” to my flatmate, the worry subsided.

I spent some time exploring my new surrondings, the city I would be based in for the next twelve months, and took a number of photographs. Initially I displayed these in a Facebook album, but later took them down as I didn’t want people to think I lived in a war zone.

Each month or a bit less at times, I usually have a wee wonder around the city, to see what has changed, and a lot has. At times I have to question ‘what was there?’ when I see a huge gap in the street, but more often that not I am saying “thats new” or “that building went up fast”
So I am living in an ever changing city, and I think that is pretty awesome. I think Cantabrians have an awesome resilliance about them, and in general I think now is a pretty amazing time time to make a big impact and a say in the place you live.

Reviewing a lot of the photographs I have taken in the past ten months in Christchurch, I wish I had taken a lot more, or labelled them at least. I recently walked all the way along Cambridge Terrace, which had previously not been open to the public, and in fact looked like a total Ghost town when I arrived, now has cars passing along in freely, with some buildings either demolished or partly fixed up.

Cashel Street in the main CBD. The building on the left has now gone
as has the building behind it, and the Westpac tower (far right) is being taken down.

This is now being used as a car park. The building to the far left is now a funky pizza place and
bar called CBD.

When I first arrived, you couldn’t walk up and down this street. Now the whole Street is open.

So it is slow progress in some places for Christchurch, but when you read that over 11,000 properties need to be taken down, you can see why. My dad and sister are due to come over in 3 weeks time. One of my dad’s recent comments to me was “are the trams up and running again?”
My dad was in Christchurch about 10 days before the earthquake (the earthquake being the 6.3m that destroyed the city). I think I have mentioned before about The Gap Filler. It is such an awesome project, which makes use of empty spaces in the city. A lot have been used for public art, or temporary bars or coffee shops.

My flatmate and I in Lytteton at a coffee shop – how cool are those tables?

I never thought I’d say that I would sit in a bar made out of a shipping container, or sit on a bar stool made out of a bicycle seat/shopping trolley or eat at a pinwheel wooden table. 

The video people is a recording of what Cathedral Square, (which was the main Square in the city) looks like as of the end of October.
Recently there has been a court over ruling to stop demolition of the Cathedral. Quite a lot of it is down already. However, I think it is a beautiful building, and I reckon a lot of it could be restored.
There is a street called New Regent Street, which is paralell to Cath Sq, and they are hoping that it will be open by Christmas, which is brilliant news

In summary, it has been pretty amazing living in an ever changing environment. Sometimes I don’t appreciate it when I have got to deal with a number of roadworks in certain areas, or detours, but I am excited to see how the city will develop in years to come.
I recently attended something called the concert, which was held in the new AMI stadium (rugby stadium). The organisers of this were the volunteer army, which was set up by a guy called Sam, from Canterbury uni. They got a group together, and helped people get rid of liquidfaction and other things. Pretty awesome. So the basis of getting a ticket for the concert was that you had to volunteer for 4 hours, or pledge to do so. I pledged, and next weekend, I hope to go and help out on the Pallet Palvillion, which is an awesome space they are using near the city centre.
This is on a former hotel site. It is quite amazing to see what people can think of in terms of redevelopment. I love it.
The video above is Annah Mac, who is a kiwi artist from Invercargill (way down at the bottom of the South Island), singing a cover of ‘we found love’  at the concert a few weeks ago. It rained pretty much all day, but it was a good day in general.
In news related to Christchurch, I have recently been granted a work to residence visa, which means that after another year here I can apply for residency, and freely go in and out of the country!
Countdown to dad arriving – 17 days.
Countdown to sister arriving – 24.
Plans now nearly finalised. I am spending 13 days on an epic kiwi road trip (or tiki tour as they call them here) going from Christchurch to Timaru, to Dunedin, to the Catlins, to Invercargill, to Te Anau, to Wanaka, to Queenstown, to Auckland, to Bay of Islands, to Auckland, to Taupo and then finally back in Christchurch on 27th for work. I may be glad of the rest.
Really looking forward to showing my dad and sister some cool spots around this part of the world. I love it.

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