We just returned from a 16-day trip across New Zealand's south island. Over the next couple of weeks we will be posting information on the places we visited.
First up is Christchurch
On February 22, 2011 a magnitude 6.3 earthquake devastated Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, causing millions of dollars in damage and the loss of 185 lives. Over the next year the community has been subject to numerous aftershocks, resulting in even further damage. Large sections of the city’s downtown have been fenced off to create a red-zone, leaving office and retail buildings abandoned. The city’s namesake, the Christ Church Cathedral, was nearly completely destroyed in the quake. A large portion of the main roof and over half of the cathedral’s spire collapsed, killing several people inside.
We arrived in Christchurch just as the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) was opening a walkway, through the red zone, to allow people to say their goodbyes to the cathedral. Earlier in the month the dioceses confirmed that it would be dismantling the cathedral, as it would be too costly to rebuild. This was the first time, in over a year, the public was allowed to enter into the area and over 60,000 showed up to say goodbye.
We made our way to the city center to pay our respects to those who lost their lives in the disaster and see the damage first-hand. What we witnessed was more like a war zone than the financial and spiritual heart of a city. One could not walk through the area without being overwhelmed with sadness. The community was grieving over the loss of life, the loss of a landmark, the loss of their city, and the loss of hope.
To read more about our visit to Christchurch, or our travels to New Zealand, check out www.LivingOverland.com or click here.