Phil and I went to Christchurch in January 2011, a few weeks after the first big earthquake that affected the town and a couple weeks before the second quake. We had a picture in our minds of what the city looked like from that time, but we hardly recognised it when we went back there on this trip. I chose a hotel right near Cathedral Square because that's where we stayed before and it was a great location, close to lots of restaurants, buildings, and interesting things to see. As we drove into the heart of the city, it became clear that things weren't the same. Entire blocks of buildings were missing - those lovely restaurants and the big library were gone. The building right next to the hotel we had stayed in was gone. The cathedral was half gone. It was really hard to get oriented because none of the landmarks we remembered were there. Some were new buildings, some were parking lots, and a few were still piles of rubble. It was really eye opening.
|View outside our hotel - boarded up building and empty lots from other buildings that were torn down|
During the day, we drove north to Hanmer Springs. It was a cold and rainy day, but turned out to be perfect for a rafting trip. It was a pretty tame ride, but still fun to get out and splash around. We all got to jump in the water and one point and float for a bit, and as a surprise the ride back up the river was on a jet boat. Sorry Amanda!
|Setting out on the raft|
|Jumping into the water|
|Floating down the river|
|We weren't very good at the jumping picture trick|
|Riding back on the jet boat|
|Pretty drive from Hanmer Springs|
|Charming New Regent Street|
|Cardboard ceiling and cross|
|Stained glass surrounded by cardboard|
We walked farther along and came across a building that was being demolished. It was pretty crazy that this was still happening six years later. It was also really fascinating to watch - like a hungry dinosaur clawing away at the remains.
|Building being demolished|
|Building being demolished|
|The front of the church is supported with a big structure|
The positive aspect of the rebuild is the city had so much devastation that artists decided to cheer things up with lots of random installations here and there.
|Giant patio furniture|
|The colourful Container Mall|
Back near the hotel we stumbled upon a dance floor complete with disco ball and speakers in an empty lot. Curious, we walked over and saw that there was a washing machine. Turns out it was the DanceOMat - you put money in the slot, connect your phone, and you could play music form the speakers. You could reserve the dance floor for a certain day and time. The intent was to get people to smile and bring back cheer to the city. Of course we had to try it out and were soon grooving to "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls."
|On the dance floor|
|Dance floor selfie|
With the sunshine on our faces, we enjoyed the last few moments of our time in Christchurch before heading to the airport. We dropped the girls off for their flight to Auckland and we dropped the car off before heading back to Melbourne. But the airport is tiny, and we soon found them again and shared one last bottle of wine (ok, maybe it was two) before their flight check in opened. It was the perfect way to end a great day and a truly epic trip!