History tells us the stories of great cities that have risen out of the ashes of tragedy. In 64AD, the ancient wooden city of Rome burned for six days and seven nights, wiping out 70% of the city. The Rome we see today with it’s amazing architecture and stone buildings is the result of that fire. In 1906, an earthquake wiped out 80% of San Francisco. San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world today.
On 22 February 2011, Christchurch was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed 185 people and left much of the city in rubble. I remember the day distinctly. Australians and New Zealanders have always been great mates, although to outsiders the way we tease each other, it may not seem this way. We live and work together, and many Australians have life long friends from New Zealand. When news of the earthquake broke, a sense of sadness and panic for our friends living in Christchurch took over. Without phones and limited information coming out there was nothing we could do but wait and hope for the people who had suffered from this tragedy. Christchurch today still bears the scars of that tragic time.
Walking the streets of Christchurch, I got an overwhelming feeling that this city has a story to tell and it wants you to tell it. Yes there was sadness but also something much more − a sense of hope and resurrection. The city is coming back to life in a way that shows not only resilience but a new beginning, one that supports a new generation of artists and entrepreneurs. It has a feeling of a Pheonix rising, taking on a new form and creating a different kind of beautiful − one that juxtaposes new and old.
Ingenuity is everywhere in the new Christchurch. A visit to the Restart Mall in the city center signals in a new era of business in the city. The mall is made up of converted shipping containers, that showcase problem solving at it’s finest. There are great little shops and a variety of food stalls and markets in the mall. A definite must see when you visit.
There are plenty of things to do and see during your stay in Christchurch. Great food, friendly people and sightseeing tours. From the Christchurch Gondola, visiting the Botanical Gardens, Art Galleries, Punt rides, the Canterbury Museum, the Quake Museum to a hop on hop off tour on the tramway, the list goes on and on. A visit to the newly restored Regent Street will give you a sense of the Christchurch of old.
Although she still bears the scars of that fateful day, Christchurch is a beautiful city that captures your heart at first sight. One thing is for certain; you will be touched by Christchurch’s spirit of resilience and sense of hope for the future. Thanks for having me Christchurch.