It was just past mid day on the 22nd Feb 2011, when the earth below Canterbury region shook so violently that it turned out to be the most devastating earthquakes in New Zealand’s recent history killing about 185 people and doing a damage estimated about NZ$11 billion dollars. Most people at the time were either away at work, school or just running their errands when this unexpected shake changed their future as well as the future of New Zealand to a great extent. I don’t remember too much of that day or what I was doing at the time when it all happened but once I learnt the scale of what had happened, it did really make me wonder why I was living in New Zealand. A country that is so prominently placed on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes are more frequent than seeing a beautiful sunny day. It is estimated that every year GNS Science records over 15,000 earthquakes in New Zealand. About 100 – 150 of these quakes are large enough to be felt, while the others are only known about because they are recorded by seismographs.  And yet 4.5million people, including me, call this country, our home. A country that is almost a little slice of heaven on earth, and we are the fortunate ones.

Christchurch bore the brunt of this 2011 earthquake, as the epicentre was near Lyttelton, just 10 kilometres from the CBD and this geographical event became such an important case study within all aspects of NZ right from IT, Finance, Construction sectors to Insurance, Travel, Health & Safety, Education and more. Here’s a couple of examples of how this affected the nation – Insurance premiums across the country took a hike to support for the claims made in Chch, the property prices in Auckland and Wellington inflated due to higher demands, Tourism in the Canterbury region took a big hit, EQ safety drills were a constant part of every individual’s every day life,  to name a few. While the country was focussed on protecting themselves, Christchurch remarkably had been holding off any “crying” but instead focussed on rebuilding itself as an even better city than it was !!

It’s been nearly 9 years since that dreadful day, and I’ve been in the region nearly every other year either for work, for pleasure or both; I must say that each time I visit the region I tell myself I won’t go to the Chch CBD but I end up going anyway and every single time it brings me joy when I see how much effort is going on to make the CBD a joyful place to be a part of. The CBD has become an art gallery of sorts with some amazing artwork that paints the ruins, some really award worthy. And then there are cute sculptures and set ups spread across that makes you smile when you see them. This last week when I was there, I passed by the the Margaret Mahy Children’s Playground by the Avon river between Manchester and Madras Streets and wow, what a clever set up that. It’s so vibrant and filled with some exciting things for kids of all ages to do. And just across the road was the #ChchSwing. What a simple yet brilliant structure for people of all ages, particularly in the age of Social Media it’s probably one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city. There was also a an amazing Scooter Valley for kids to ride their scooters in all forms of ups and downs yet be safe and sound. Totally loved it.
And then there is the Cardboard Cathedral on Hereford Street which never fails to Wow, no matter how many times you go there. The second you walk into the main door the bright daylight pouring over the giant slanted roof makes you go no less than “Woah”, when your eyes catch the beauty. It’s remarkably elegant design makes anyone want to admire how beautiful it is. And to think it’s a place of worship for a lot of people, there couldn’t be a more stylish yet graceful place to do so. I suppose this was my 6th or 7th time at the Cathedral and not once I have walked out without clicking atleast a dozen pictures whilst making a small donation. Apparently the cathedral receives about 200,000 (or more) visitors each year and it’s not surprising at all given how beautiful it is.

Anyway I wasn’t spending too much time in Chch city as I had reserved my time to make the most at Akaroa Valley & Banks Peninsula. So before I could drive there I stopped by for a coffee & some images at the New Brighton Pier and then made my way through Lyttleton Harbour & the Gebbles Pass. A drive so picturesque, that it deserves it’s own blog post.. Ah well some day 🙂 Meanwhile below are some pictures from the Garden City..