End of June- Early August 2016
Christchurch is a fascinating city. A few years ago it was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed almost 200 people. The people have been buried the red tape of insurance rules and many houses still don't function correctly. A lot of money has been put into the mental health of the city and its inhabitants.
This was our first South Island stop. We took another pet sitting gig while the family (who we think is marvelous) was doing a bit of world traveling of their own. From there we forayed North to Kaikoura, South to Dunedin, West to Tekapo and Mount Sunday. For those of you who aren't devout nerds, Mount Sunday is Edoras in LoTR.
Since we were there for nearly two months, this album is not small. Oh, and we made a few personal changes, obviously.
In an effort to keep spirits up, Christchurch officials turned to artists to create murals throughout the city. They've also attempted to save many of the historical facades which are being held up by shipping containers until the building can be reconstructed. And near the center of the city is a memorial to all the people who were lost to the 6.3 quake. The memorial has a chair, donated by each of the affected families, to represent the victim. Each chair is painted white and set up in rows that are reminiscent of pews in a church though they are not treated as sacred. People are invited to wander through the rows, to sit in the seats, to fully inhabit the space. The exhibit is not permanent (as far as I'm aware) but it is moving and emotional.
These are only a handful of the murals that decorate the city.
Another major loss for the city was the Anglican Cathedral. The front came crashing down, bringing the bells with it. Although a few people were inside, no one was hurt. There is a new, temporary church, aptly named The Cardboard Cathedral, which somehow manages to feel holy and inspires reverence even without many of the usual hallmarks of a place of worship.
Chch is the largest city on the South Island and as such, there is much to find and explore.