Christchurch, New Zealand wasn’t particularly high up on the priority list for this trip. People who had been said there wasn’t much to see. I think they went to the wrong place, because I found Christchurch truly inspirational.
1. It is rebuilding and needs tourists to bring in much needed income
Throughout its history it has suffered earthquakes, and just within the past 5 years suffered a big one, and aftershocks. People died. Enquiries into building construction still continue, however all that is for another time, I’d rather post an optimistic tale of resurrection and rebuilding of a community.
2. Its history and small ‘English town’ atmosphere
They have gorgeous old street trams with informative and witty drivers who will give you a really informative dialogue as you travel around the sights of the small city. The mountains in the distance solid and sure, reassuring in some sense.
3. Churches and Cathedrals
For those who love churches (It is Christchurch after all) you will see the only cardboard cathedral in the world (I think) Even for those not religious you can’t question the beauty, ingenuity and fighting spirit of the people who had this inspired plan.
The half destroyed cathedral stands nearby, still awaiting politicians and committees to decide its fate. A sobering sight.
4. Street Art
The street art is stunning, bright, amusing, optimistic and everywhere. It adorns wrecked high-rises and new builder’s hoardings.
The use of the humble metal shipping container comes into its own at ‘restart’ as well as around the city to protect old architecture etc. Just one request there ‘restart’ it would have been nice to be able to get a coffee after 4pm, even if it was a quiet day.
5. For inspiration
Everywhere you look there is evidence of destruction, it must be a daily reminder, as if they need one, to those who lie and work there. It brings home just how powerful our planet is when it chooses to fight back. It is also showed the resilience and determination of the people to live in a place so in touch with nature and its forces. Most people still live where they used to, maybe with defiance. Many seem to accept the risk and remember those who have gone with affection and accepting sadness. I hope the powers that be soon move forwards with further rebuilding / demolition etc.
I personally hope they will build anew, not look back and try to replicate things that are gone. Some iconic frontages may need saving however that can be done in sympathy with new design, not always in its original form. Enhance the old, embrace the new.
Yet again, I found a small plaque of inspiration beneath my feet. “All animals, except man, know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it” The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902
Thanks Christchurch I wish you well.
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I hope I’ve inspired you to travel, tweet me from your next coffee stop!