February 21, 2017

Christchurch: the city under construction

It is time I start to review and organise all my pictures and videos from my trip to New Zealand (in the summer of 2015). And since I have to do that, it may well be a good time to review and write about the trip in here. It's been too long since I last wrote, and the other day I started to have problems to remember everything we did and when we did it, so that was the first alarming sign telling me "you need to write that shit down, gurl!". So yup, let's go.

Christchurch: the city under construction

In total, from all the time I spent in NZ last summer (1 month and a week, approx.), I slept 3 nights but only spent/enjoyed 2 evenings in the city, so I didn't get to know the city a lot, but I can say some things. Also, thanks to the course I took, I had the chance to visit some sites around Christchurch (also written as Chch), so yeah, it's something. Let's start with the basics (and a bit of copy-paste from the Christchurch's entry in Wikipedia):
Christchurch (Ōtautahi in Māori) is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. It is home to 381,800 residents, making it New Zealand's third most-populous urban area behind Auckland and Wellington.
Don't know if you know, but Chch was hit by three earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the one on February 22, 2011, is considered the nation's 3rd deadliest natural disaster in history. The city collapsed due to that tremor, and this is the reason why Chch is now a city under construction, literally. You get a weird feeling when you walk around the city center. It's really sad because it reminds you of all the suffering and pain its people must have been through, and you can also perceive all the memories and history that have been lost. I was shocked when I first arrived because you could find parking places almost everywhere, I guess where there had been a building before. And now there only were huge solars destined for parking...


Christchurch cathedral (upper right image, images below)





But at the same time, you can feel all their efforts and hope into rebuilding their lives, their city, their memories and their future, and this is also kind of awakening and motivating.

One of the places I liked the most (and reminded a little bit of Copenhagen...) was the Re:Start Mall, a mall made of containers which appeared after the 2011 earthquake, and is currently a model of a new style of construction in Chch. You can find more about it here: http://www.restart.org.nz/.
WORKING TOGETHER FOR A COMMON GOAL
The Re:START container mall was born from the need to breathe new life into the Christchurch central city, following the devastating earthquake on 22 February, 2011. It was the brainchild of the city’s Property and Building Owners group, who knew that the wait for new buildings would be too long and that people needed to be encouraged back into the CBD as soon as possible. Re:START has grown steadily over the past three years, increasing from 27 businesses at the opening in October 2011, to well over 50 businesses today. In addition, there are market stalls, street performers and buskers. Since opening, Re:START has been the cornerstone for the tourist industry in Christchurch and helped rocket Christchurch to number six in the Lonely Planet guide to the ‘must visit’ places in the world. While containers for all sorts of purposes are commonplace now in Christchurch, the idea was a bit of a wildcard when the idea of Re:START was first conceived. Their use meant that retail was established in the CBD several years before it would have otherwise taken place. Its success has demonstrated that retail can be re-established in the CBD, which has had 80% of its area demolished.





The Red Zone

Another place I had the chance to visit was the Central City Red Zone. Well, some parts of it.
The Central City Red Zone is also known as the CBD Red Zone, and was a public exclusion zone in the Christchurch Central City implemented after the 22 February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. After February 2013, it was officially renamed the CBD Rebuild Zone by government agencies, but remained known as the Red Zone. It gradually shrank in size and the last cordons were removed on 30 June 2013, 859 days after the earthquake (from Wikipedia).
Here you can see how much the damage affected the city, and how extense it was.


        

Pictures above about the Red Zone were all found on the web.

And here you have some of the pics I took. It's really shocking to see the empty land, where there had been houses before. And how life keeps happening around it...



Regarding the restoration and development of the Red Zone, some projects are being proposed and studied. One of them, the EdenNZ, Mountains to the sea - Ki Uta Ki Tai, which we had the chance to learn a little bit about it. It is quite ambitious and I'm not sure it will ever happen, but it's encouraging to see they are trying to build something nice and positive for the city.

EdenNZ, Mountains to the sea - Ki Uta Ki Tai

This project is inspired by the Eden Project UK, which I also thought it would be interesting to share:


Other projects and ideas are being considered in the restoration and development of the Red Zone, although I'm not sharing them now. Maybe I'll look for them at another time and I can share them with you.

Now that I have talked a lot about Chch's earthquakes and how are they fighting to get back up, maybe I should move on to the more "touristic" information...


Accommodation

I stayed at two different places while in Chch, one was a hostel in the city centre, the other a hotel close to the airport, because that's what we needed at that time. I booked both of them through Booking, which I use a lot since it gives me the chance to cancel until last minute, if there's a change of plans... which sometimes happen.

  • YHA Christchurch Backpackers: typical hostel in the city center, which was quite clean and peaceful (if I remember correctly, I'm not quite sure now...). We stayed in a double room with a shared bathroom (which was okay, although it was usually occupied) and we used the common kitchen to prepare our dinner the same night we got there. We only spent one night there, so it was a super-short stay.


    But I would recommend it, if you're planning to go and it's location suits you. The "bad" thing about Chch is that it really is an extensive city, so wherever you want to go... it's far. Although this hostel is really close to the "center" and close to some churches (walking distance). Unfortunately, due to the earthquake, there's not a lot (of beautiful things) to see right now, but I would recommend walking around anyway. As I said, it's also an experience to understand the suffering from others. Here you have the hostel's webpage.

    Our room was, more or less, something like this, or maybe this one:

  • Sudima Hotel: we stayed two nights in this hotel, and we needed it close to the airport because my partner had an early flight the following day (5 minutes walking distance!). This was in the last days of our trip together, and we wanted to visit the surroundings of Chch and Canterbury, and not the city itself (because we had been there already), so this was a good choice because it was easy to go in and out with the car, etc. without losing so much time in traffic.


    The hotel is okay, and quite expensive for my taste (but I knew that already). It is a business hotel and some parts were still under construction. I was happy to stay there because it was of a higher standing than the hostels we had stayed during our trip, so it was nice to finish it a "quality" touch. I think we had wifi, we didn't have breakfast (although we did not care that much), we had our own bathroom and all, parking, there was a bar and a restaurant, and I guess they had more things to offer but I did not pay attention to them. Here you have the hotel's website.

    I think we had this room, or something similar:


I stayed a fourth night in Chch, but I stayed at a friend's place, so thanks to her for the hospitality :) It's funny because I stayed in Chch at three different times in the same trip: the night of the 31st of July, the nights of the 10th and the 11th of August, and the night of the 1st of September, if I remember correctly. Crazy.


Restaurants

So... Okay, I have a weakness for asian food, and here you'll see why. I knew I would rely on New Zealand's gastronomy along my trip, so I diverted from it in the big city. Moreover, we were closer to asian countries than when we are in Spain, so I thought the food would be better, and more "real".

It's not that these places were great and you HAVE to go there, but I was there, they were okay, so I'm giving them a good review.

The first one is the Sakimoto Japanese Bistro, which is located in the Cathedral Junction, one of the routes of the Christchurch Tramway. And you'll ask yourself: what is that? Well, it turns out that Chch tramway is really touristy, and nice, and vintage, you can travel around the city on it. I think they also have a restaurant in one of their trams. Well, the Cathedral Junction I mentioned it's just a building that has the tramway inside, and also some restaurants, shops, etc. It's like a station, but more cozy and curious. Different, and I really liked it! Although we only went there at night, when everything was almost closed, so the sights that we had are nowhere near the pictures you can find on Google.


Image from Google

These are the pictures I took:


And well, going back to the food, these are some of the delicatessen we ate:


In this same place, there was a chinese restaurant called Chong's, which we didn't try, but we wanted to, so there you have it. In case you're looking for a place and you don't know where to go.

The other place I went to, a japanese and korean restaurant, was Mum's 24, totally at the other side of the city (in this case, nothing fancy around it). Well, it's close to the Re:Start Mall. I ordered an eel dish with the typical japanese side dishes. It was really good. Here you have their website.


And I think that's all. If I remember more stuff, I'll update the post. I have more things to say regarding Chch, but they are related to the course I took and biodiversity, so I'll write a separate post about it.




Oh, yeah, one last thing:

I started writing this post around summer 2016, but then I abandoned it, and now here I am again. I'm saying this because, during the break, another earthquake hit New Zealand, and it really crushed my heart. Luckily there weren't a lot of human casualties due to the earthquake but, in this case, the biggest lost was biodiversity. This time it hit in Kaikoura, which was my absolute New Zealand highlight. I really liked it, and I'll write about it in another post, and I was super sad to hear that some parts of the paradise I had the chance to experience were destroyed. Kaikoura's wildlife is spectacular and very rich, and I hope I can make it justice when I write about it.

The earthquake raised the seabed between 2 - 6 meters

Just wanted to let you know... some uniquenesses of this world were lost... and it's really sad.

Nat