Get ready for a lengthy post folks.
Throughout my travels in NZ I had heard not so great reviews about Christchurch. To the point where Lake Tekapo was an added stop on my itinerary to decrease the amount of time I would be in Christchurch. Needless to say my expectations for the city were not great. To my pleasant surprise, I had one of the most interesting days of my whole trip.
As you may know, Christchurch was struck by a series of earthquakes beginning in September 2010 and culminating in NZ’s worst earthquake in 80 years in February 2011. For whatever reason I was under the impression that most of the earthquake damage had been repaired. I could not have been further off. There are large gaps on every street where prominent buildings once stood, construction everywhere attempting to restore some salvageable structures, and many untouched destroyed sites and surrounding rubble. 3 years later you literally cannot walk down a street without reminders of destruction from the quake.
I started my morning off at the botanical gardens. I’m not usually one to be mesmerized by plants but they had seriously some of the coolest flowers I’ve ever seen! Everyone should be relieved to know I have discovered my favourite flower: Dalias (hint hint nudge nudge).
I then visited the museum on Canterbury to check out their street art exhibit–beyond cool.
Here are some of my fav pieces from the exhibit.
I also visited a new exhibit by artist Ian Strange that showcased his project inspired by the earthquake. He selected a number of homes that would soon be demolished due to structural damage. He then lit the homes strategically and created a really interesting collection of photographs that are meant to question the notion of home.
So the coolest part about Christchurch right now is it’s “transitional projects”. The city is literally in the middle of being completely rebuilt and out of all the destruction, some VERY cool creative and innovative projects have emerged. The damage from the earthquake was devastating but the silver lining is that they have a very unique opportunity to re-model large chunks of their city in more sustainable and contemporary ways. How many cities get the chance to have at least half of a clean slate?
This location is probably the most iconic post-earthquake attraction. Pictured below is the Re:START mall–a 51-store shopping centre made out of shipping containers. This place is neatooo.
Gap Filler is a creative urban regeneration initiative that sees vacant sites transformed into temporary, creative, people-centred hubs of activity. There are also other organizations that have similar objectives and aim to inject life back into the city by putting what would otherwise be dreary vacancy to creative use. Here are some examples of these transitional projects below.
Snakes and Ladders
This art installation is called 185 Empty Chairs and is located where the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church once stood. The empty chairs are a memorial that represent the loss experienced in Christchurch from the earthquake. There are still services here every Sunday.
This is a collaborative community work of art where anyone can bring their own fabric and/or miscellaneous item that can be woven in to the mosaic. I saw everything from normal fabric, to Popsicle sticks, a bra, and a diaper.
This is my favourite gap filler! This is called the Dance-o-Mat. Anyone can simply put $2 in the machine and plug in their phone or iPod to have the surround sound blare your music. Let the dance party begin on the outdoor stage. The dance floor is also available for rent for dance classes; the project was initiated to offer all the damaged dance studios a space post earthquake but is more than open to the general public as well.
Right now the Festival of Flowers is going on in Christchurch in Cathedral Square. There are a number of super cool installations in here but this one had to be my fav.
I finished my day off doing a drop-in at a local crossfit gym. This particular gym is owned by two All Blacks brothers. Lucky for me Thursdays they go long and we had to do the WOD from hell. But great box overall and drop-in rate includes a t-shirt!
I am flying out to Brisbane tomorrow morning and just like that my pre-exchange trip comes to a close, as well as my daily posts–you are all probably sick of having to read so much anyways. But fear not I will continue to blog, just a bit less frequently. Stay tuned for more adventures in Oz 🙂