Our day in Christchurch

Our day in Christchurch left us with bitter-sweet memories.

Looking down on the town of Summer 2View of Wanaka from the top of the mountain

After the Continental Breakfast supplied by the Guest House we set out to discover Christchurch and its surrounds. On the advice of our host we first headed out of town to the little town of Wanaka, also known as Summer due to its popularity as a holiday town in that season, the mountains around it. It was an excellent suggestion and a beautiful way to start the day. We didn’t go into the town but took the road up into the mountains which rise straight up from coast road. There were the expected sheep on the mountain sides which were beautifully green. The higher we climbed we were treated to stunning views of the town, the harbour and the Pacific Ocean. At the top was a parking area where the beauty of the land was spread before us. Sadly, we were unable to go down the other side as the roads were still under repair following the earthquake 7 years later.

Ship in Summer harbourA ship in Wanaka Harbour

View while drivingThe mountain opposite the one we were climbing

We drove back down the way we had come and returned to the city. We found a central parking from where we could walk to the Cathedral College, University of Canterbury Arts School and other buildings in the area. These buildings all had scaffolding around various parts and it was this sight that really made us think. It was almost 8 years since the major earthquake and there was still so much repair work waiting to be done. Some notices told of the costs of repairs and that for non-government or non-priority roads and buildings funds needed to be raised for repairs. Seeing these time consuming repairs and the enormous costs in a “developed” country taking more than 8 years to re-establish itself what happens in countries such as Haiti, Indonesia and very recently Mozambique when they suffer cyclones and typhoons. Do they ever return to normality?

Area closed due to damageProtective structures

Courtyard of Cathedral CollegeCourtyard of Cathedral (note scaffolding at rear left)

Entrance to Arts SchoolEntrance to the Arts School

We returned to the Botanic Gardens where we ate our lunch and to enjoy parts of the Gardens we had missed yesterday. We saw what appeared to be a very deformed fir tree which had branches all over the place; the Peacock Fountain which was bought in 1911 from money donated by Mr William Peacock, a local philanthropist and the World Peace Bell made of coins and medals from 103 countries mixed with copper to show unity. So glad we returned for a 2nd look.

Botanic Gardens Interesting shape of fir treeDeformed Fir Tree

Botanic Gardens Peacock FountainPelican Fountain

World Peace BellThe World Peace Bell

We then drove around to what is currently being used as the Transitional Cathedral, also referred to as the Cardboard Cathedral as it built with drywall materials. It was quite beautiful in its simplicity. We met the Dean of the Cathedral who was really pleased that we had taken the time to see how they were coping.

Front of cardboard churchFront entrance to the Transitional Cathedral

FontNave, font and sanctuary

Across the road at the rear of the Church was a temporary art display of 185 Empty Chairs. They were all white but there was a wide variety of chairs which included a rocking chair, a kitchen chair and even a baby’s high chair. It was quite an eerie feeling standing looking at these chairs representing those who lost their lives in the earthquake. The idea of artists using an empty chair to symbolise a death first happened in in 1870 when Luke Fildes used this theme on the death of Charles Dickens.

185 empty chairsSome of the 185 Empty Chairs

After driving past the original Cathedral, currently deconsecrated, which was covered in scaffolding for restoration. Costs are expected to be in the region of Aus$40m some of which will come from the state. Near the Cathedral is a simple but lovely Family Recovery Garden where families with social issues can find peace, be counselled or just share their situations.

Cathedral restorationCathedral under restoration

Family Recovery GardenInfo on the Family Recovery Centre

Counselling areaThe Counselling/Discussion Area

We finished our day in Christchurch with a visit to Victoria Square where there was a beautiful fountain which had been completely destroyed by the earthquake and was fully restored. There were 2 statues in the Square – one of James Cook who visited NZ 3 times and a statue of Queen Victoria with friezes on all sides of the plinth. The square had a number of flowering gardens.

fountainRestored fountain in Victoria Square

Statue of James CookJames Cook

Statue of Queen Victoria 2Queen Victoria

The final building we saw was the very modern Art Gallery built post the earthquake in July 2011 and had a sculpture of a bull on a piano at the front and of a man on the roof.

 Bull sculpture and sculpture on roof

Art gallery with Sculpture of a bull on a piano and a man on the roof

We returned to our Guest House in time for a supper, a frozen meal which we heated in the microwave and to pack for us to leave in the morning. Our next stop would be Mt Cook where Sir Edmund Hillary did his training to climb Mt Everest.

About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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