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There are still plenty of good reasons to go to Christchurch

As we drove into Christchurch my first reaction was one of shock at the devastation of the city three years on from the earthquakes. Everywhere you look there are huge gaps where buidings were and I later learned that almost 80% of the original city has been demolished including 200 heritage buildings.651486552219AC681708D5841A23C02A.jpg65153C912219AC6817414B4252E93602.jpg6515F16C2219AC681749C46CC93AF3CB.jpg65168BC32219AC68172601EE773081B0.jpg Entire sides of some of the remaining buildings are being held up by stacked containers filled with ballast and the entire city is ike a huge construction site. I stayed at the YHA hostel, which is a heritage buiding and although it suffered some damage it is now back up and running 3539CF822219AC681743506B09025FA9.jpgbut right across the street is the Arts Centre which currently looks like this 353AAD192219AC6817DDC9DB91919B5A.jpg The beautiful cathedral which stands at the heart of the city used to look like this 353C2A102219AC681723CAC72E1632F0.jpg353CE0502219AC681763B12DD69BC308.jpgbut now looks like this 353B8D6D2219AC68176E75714E80DE04.jpgand there is so much debate about the future of this iconic building that it has been the subject of a court case. Meanwhile a 'Cardboard Cathedral' has been built 357A99252219AC681705B1577D200F6E.jpgand has become a tourist attraction in itself. Despite the devastation some of the old buildings have survived 357B62E72219AC6817809FB3640CE817.jpg357C214C2219AC681784A9FFFACDDEE8.jpg and the 'Restart Mall', where shops and restaurants operate out of containers, is a symol of the spirit of the city and a big draw for tourists. 357CF28C2219AC681786BDF1417D5B6F.jpg357DA11F2219AC68179E9E2A5112F4CD.jpg357E42A82219AC6817BD67ABDD31759C.jpg There is still punting on the river and lots of little 'pop up' coffee bars have emerged to add colour to the area. 35B435E82219AC6817DBCE71B40DFB69.jpg35B316462219AC681789FB4FEAFFE9B5.jpg Street artists have taken advantage of blank walls 3623CD132219AC6817F353408D46265F.jpg and temporary 'gap fillers' have been erected. This outdoor entertainment space which has been constructed alongside the damaged concert hall is one example 35E83FD32219AC6817F743EE154CAE12.jpgIt has been put together by members of the local community and is made from folded packing crates with the names of those of have contributed to the effort painted on the sides of each one.
The museum is still standing 35B4EE242219AC68173917980924904C.jpgand I spent a couple of hours in here exploring the wonderful exhibitions including a reconstructed colonial dwelling 35B5B7042219AC6817E7D519B6028EBB.jpg an early Christchurch street 35B671182219AC68174E84344567EE08.jpgsome fascinating fossils 35B71AAD2219AC6817C7B5B2B5A31FC4.jpgand a gallery dedicated to Antarctic exploration35E4522D2219AC6817728536B8039ABA.jpg35E504F42219AC6817F3AC1B49750F83.jpg35E5D3782219AC6817D84F909215364A.jpgThere is also an entire gallery of street art including some examples of Banksy.35E693F62219AC681797EEDA34E71C40.jpgand many other galleries worth spending time in. It really is an excellent museum ?
The botanic gardens, which are right next door to the museum, are absolutely beautiful and play host to free outdoor entertainment. 362553782219AC6817FB3AFDF527B0B6.jpg36263A3D2219AC68177B52C8172E7836.jpg3627179D2219AC68174CE13F5B2D4CB4.jpg3627FBB72219AC6817C25AF5D4234D9B.jpg364DBA192219AC6817A0B5C6F741890F.jpg364EB2082219AC6817AF563C2234DADD.jpgI managed to capture the interest of one of the feathered inhabitants 364F75122219AC6817E1F03FF024F96C.jpgbut some of the others gave me 'the bird' 365010452219AC6817D1023AE2F575BB.jpgI had less than 48 hours in the city but 'Quake City' was recommended to me by one of the museum staff so I went there in the morning before I left to fly back to Australia. I had not intended to go to this as I didn't want to be ghoulishly voyeuristic about so much suffering but I was assured it was run by the museum and dealt sensitively with the earthquake experience. There is a NZ$10 entry fee to this but it is worth going to. There are photographs of the immediate aftermath, CCTV footage of a small area of street as it happened (thankfully nobody was injured in this sequence) and lots of information about how the local, and national community rallied, to assist the people affected by the disaster. There is also information about how the rebuild is going and the future plan for the city is on display.There are to be a many more open, green, spaces and squares encompassing entertainment, sports and hospital facilities. What has happened to this city is undoubtedly a huge tragedy but there is also a lot of potential for quality, life enhancing, re-development and apparently a lot of enthusiasm among architects and planners who have moved into the city in the aftermath of the earthquakes. It is going to take a very long time to make this city as beautiful as it was, and it will be very different to the old Christchurch, but if the planners and builders get it right they could put Christchurch right back on the map as a world class destination. Meanwhile there are plenty of tourists in evidence, although accommodation needs to be booked well in advance as much of it is taken up by construction workers, and the outdoor coffee bars and restaurants are still buzzing in the Christchurch sunshine.

Posted by busyboots 17:34

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Hi Jane, good write up on Christchurch. Just leaving. It was one of the saddest things I have seen.

Edward x

by edblake

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