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GOLF 4-3-9 Antarctica Expedition 2012



New Zealand
170 m above sea level

Visiting Christchurch made us all sad about the devastation and all the losses the city experienced.  At the end of our visit, however, we were quite optimistic about the resilience of its people and their determination to come to a quick recovery.  There seems to be an unlimited amount of energy and creativity that they will use to making their city as awesome as it was before.  This recognition probably let the editors of the “Lonely Planet” guidebooks to recognize Christchurch as number six of the top ten cities worldwide to visit in 2013.

Two major and numerous minor earthquakes have changed Christchurch irreversibly. The first struck west of the city on Sept 4, 2010.  We came through a month later for our last deployment, and experiencing several aftershocks that rattled the Windsor B&B but there was only minor damage at that time. Just after we passed through Christchurch on our way back to the US, the worst earthquake struck on Feb 22, 2011. It was “only” a 6.3 magnitude, but it was centered just below Christchurch and it resulted in ground movement that was among the strongest ever recorded in any metropolitan area. The result was disastrous. 185 people were killed and the downtown area was ravaged, including Christchurch’s emblematic Cathedral.  Seismic activity appears to continue to this date but slowly diminishing in frequency and intensity. When we came back to Christchurch on our trip to the ice this year we knew that the Windsor did not make it, and it had turned into a vacant lot, just like much of the downtown. Many historic buildings had to be demolished, but some will be saved such as the Christchurch Cathedral than was badly damaged.  It was good to see that they are also saving some less iconic ones  such as this quirky old watch store.

In the midst of this devastation revival can be seen. There is a new mall, The Restart Mall, located near the old downtown center. It was constructed from shipping containers and now houses a number of shops, including some of our old favorites, like Johnson’s Grocery and several coffee shops. 

It will take time for Christchurch to recover, but you can already sense that this new city is coming together  The people of Christchurch are still the same wonderful and resourceful people who know how to make a city into a beautiful, liveable place and create a new Christchurch.  There will be a great deal of old Christchurch left or re-built, but there will be lots of exciting new architecture in a city that welcomes travellers from all over the world.  We think the people from the Lonely Planet were right.

Hubert and Laurie


Read more about:

Christchurch earthquakes

The ReStart Mall

Pictures from Johnson’s Grocery

The Lonely Planet Story on Christchurch