A shaky start in Christchurch

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.

Snow beside the runway in Christchurch as my Air Asia X flight touches down

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.

Earthquake damaged buildings sill fenced off

Boarded up buildings in an attempt to weather proof until reconstruction begins

A sorry sight against a beautiful sky

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.

Footprints in the snow

an afternoon walk in the snow-covered Hagley Park

Enjoying the sunset from across Hagley Park

Priceless sunset in Hagley Park, Christchurch

A lone tree in Hagley Park

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.

Cathy - my host, guide, philosopher and friend

Late afternoon view over Christchurch from Dyers Pass

Panorama of Lyttelton Harbour viewed from Governers Bay

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.

Screenshot of the Christchurch Quake Map showing the 3.6M earthquake I felt

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.


About Rory Alexander

Ever growing blogger that spent 2 years in living in China, then 6 weeks backpacking around New Zealand and is now back home in South Africa for the foreseeable future.
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13 Responses to A shaky start in Christchurch

  1. the278thword says:

    that picture of the snow and the sun is awesome

  2. Beautiful photographs.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow Rory – great shots! Look forward to following your journey and seeing more!

  4. roanmack13 says:

    Awesome Rors! Those photos are tremor-endous! (you see what I did there? 🙂 ) I see you have also taken to trade-marking your photos… now I have to crop off the bottom before re-using them. That’s not very nice. (just saying)

    I do also agree with others that the low shot of the snow with the sunset through the tress in the background is sensational and is my pic of the bunch. Looking forward to seeing the rest!

    P.S. I was once in an earthquake in Japan in 2003, but think ours was closer to a 6 magnitude! We were in a hotel so a little more scary. I felt the movement, climbed out of the shower that I was in at the time, wrapped a towel around myself and opened my door to the hallway. I was greeted by one of our Afrikaans teammates tearing down the corridor towards the emergency exit shouting “AARDBEWING!!!” I must admit that I had to go and look that word up as I am sure you will now too…

    • Thanks bud, I see what you did there, very witty. As for the copyright, I like to tell myself I’m getting better at photography and may try selling my shots so I just need to make sure people don’t steal my stuff. Re-use with pleasure just leave the bottom there and help a budding photographer out.

      I just looked up “Aardbewing” (earthquake) and I can imagine that being quite an experience. And because it’s a logarithmic scale your 6 magnitude would have been more than a hundred times greater than the one I experienced.

      • roanmack13 says:

        A hundred times greater! Maybe I got the magnitude a little off then, but the whole building was shaking fairly violently (probably an 8-10 story hotel) for about 45 seconds or so and it did make the news that night, so maybe I got it right. Can’t be too sure but it was definitely one interesting experience.

      • Probably not bud, there are lost of factors that influence how devastating an earthquake is and one of the problems with the Christchurch quakes is that have all been very shallow.
        There was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan in May 2003 but that was at a depth of 72km below the earth’s surface where as the one I felt in New Zealand was only 7km below the surface.

  5. karen delaney says:

    wow great blog, really enjoyed d read again and d trip down memory lane 🙂
    and d pics are just class again… u must tink my pictures are some pile of sh*te!!!!!!! 😀

    • Thanks, I hope you enjoy the posts to come too. My pictures might be beautiful but yours tell more of a story with many more people shots while mine are mostly landscape. The drawbacks of travelling alone I guess.

  6. Pingback: Day 36 – Lake Tekapo to Christchurch, my last day on the Magic Bus | Why Rory Alexander is in New Zealand

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