Traveling and exploring new things in general is great in so many ways, one of them being able to meet interesting people and visit new places. Not only do you see ways in which other people live that you might adopt to improve your own live, but you can also be reminded of all the good things you might already have in your live and are taking for granted.
Our first stop in New Zealand was Christchurch on the north east coast of the south island where we were able to stay with our lovely friends Helen & Mike. They showed us around in the area of Christchurch and the city itself. Do you remember when this region was hit by earthquakes in 2010/2011? Yes, most of us remember hearing a few news reports about it, but there wasn’t a tsunami (1) and there weren’t thousand of victims (2) … – And then you visit the city and realize the impact the quake had on this small city (3) which will never be the same again. Only from hearing stories from our friends, visiting the excellent museum in the city and seeing what Christchurch looks like now, I felt thankful that earthquakes are another thing I never had to worry about growing up in Germany.
Even 5 years after the event the central part of Christchurch contains more empty plots than actual houses, only two higher building remain and construction is ongoing everywhere. Many streets are being worked on extensively, others are just a bit bumpy. Further buildings will have to be demolished as they are structurally damaged, it is not clear if and how the central cathedral can be saved. Thousands of families had to move to new areas after the ground below their old home was “liquified”. All you can see now are areas with nice grass and other plants and trees that look oddly out of place as they used to be part of different houses’ gardens. Soil liquifaction wasn’t something I had seen before, the term describes the phenomenon of sandy ground behaving like a liquid after being shaken vigorously as by an earthquake. The ground will let houses and cars sink in in some places and sand will be squirted out in others, the whole area will become unusable (unless specific measures are being applied to stabilize the ground and buildings).
Luckily New Zealand is not densly populated and there will be space to relocate to, but it is pretty obvious that will take more time and effort until Christchurch will be fully functional again, businesses are operating as before and people can go back to normal – and for some this might not be possible at all. Maori legends attribute earthquakes to he god Rūaumoko moving around after getting trapped underground under his mother. Let’s just hope he is tired now and will rest for a long time.
Our Christchurch photos are in this gallery.
(1) A small tsunami wave was formed when the earthquake caused ice blocks to brake off the Tasman glacier and fall into the Tasman lake.
(2) There were 185 casualties from the 7.1 earthquake on 22nd of February 2011.
(3) Christchurch has around 380,000 inhabitants.