We have family friends in Christchurch who kindly offered for me to stay with them before embarking on my journey. I spent 5 days with them which gave me time to recover from my jet lag (4 hours ahead of Malaysia) and also to adjust to the winter temperatures after leaving a hot and humid Chinese Summer.
If you didn’t know Christchurch has been quite severely damaged by a few big earthquakes and several thousand smaller ones over the past year. As a result most of the city centre is fenced off with many of the buildings showing signs of damage and temporary weather proofing measures in place. The pattern of damage is actually quite strange as you will walk down the street passing two houses with no discernible damage while the third is a pile of rubble.
Despite all the disruption the people of Christchurch are soldiering on and even if a shadow of its former self I still found the city beautiful and in particular Hagley Park which was just down the road from where I was staying.
After just missing the massive snow storm the weather was actually very pleasant for the remainder of the week and on the Sunday I was taken for a scenic drive up Dyers Pass over the mountains to Lyttelton Harbour which was just magnificent as you will hopefully be able to tell from these photos.
Everyone who heard I was going to Christchurch asked if I wasn’t worried about the earthquakes and I wasn’t. In fact there was a part of me that really wanted an earthquake while I was there. It’s terrible I know, to wish for something bad just to be able to experience it especially after the destruction the town had already suffered but I couldn’t help it. While there had been several small tremors during the week none were big enough to really feel and with only one night left in Christchurch I began to think it just wouldn’t happen which was probably for the best. I awoke at around 3:00am the next morning needing the bathroom but not wanting to get out of my warm bed I lay there trying to get back to sleep when everything started to shake. Was it an earthquake, I don’t know after all I’d never experienced one before but I lay there frozen wondering how long it would last and if it would get any worse. Then before I knew it the shaking stopped and everything was still again. It only lasted a few seconds and was over before I could really comprehend what was happening. It had to have been an earthquake, surely. I quickly logged on to the Christchurch Quake Map to confirm my suspicions and sure enough there had been a 3.6 magnitude earthquake only 5 km below the surface not far from where I was staying.
Although I hadn’t had the best night’s sleep I was excited the next morning as my bags were repacked, my camera battery charged and memory cards cleared all ready for the start of my five-week tour of New Zealand with the Magic Bus.