The largest city of the South Island, Christchurch, has become known for its earthquake devastation over the past number of years. In 2010 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the city, although creating widespread damage there were no direct fatalities. However in February 2011 at 12:51pm a 6.3 magnitude earthquake happened. Although less in magnitude than the previous one it was closer to the city and much shallower beneath the earths surface, thus causing catastrophe and severe destruction. There were over 180 fatalities in that earthquake.
A quick drive through the city and the damage is apparent. There is very little high rise buildings and about 25'% of the city space is occupied by gravel based carparks, in other words, areas where building once stood. Some buildings are under restoration, some have yet to be knocked down and some lean unnervingly to one side. The roads are all bumpy, like your driving over a slow speed warning zone, there are cracks in the road and the most obvious signs of movement are the road markings, which if viewed directly jump left and right as if someone drunk had painted them. The place is pretty dead and is largely occupied by male builders etc constantly on the lookout for women, the shortage worse than water in the Sahara desert! I managed to grab a few nights kip with a work colleague of Mark's on the outskirts of the city centre. There was still plenty of restaurants and bars about the and the centre part of the city still had some attractions to it, specifically the cafe made out of wooden pallets and the shopping mall built from steel storage containers!!! The following day we took a walk up Rapaki track, which takes you up into the mountains and allows a very impressive view over the city. In the background as per usual, is a long line of snow-capped mountains, a typical trademark New Zealand backdrop.
It's true that there is really nothing to see or do in Christchurch, the soul of the city has been crushed by the earthquakes, however it is under construction and hopefully should see some life in the coming few years. I still would argue that despite people telling you not to bother going here, it still worth going to see that it's not worth seeing, if that makes any sense! The destruction of such a natural disaster and that eerie atmosphere that goes with it is enough to make the visit worthwhile for a few days.
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