Walking Through Christchurch, NZ (After The Big Earthquake)

In February 22, 2011 there was a massive earthquake in Christchurch that killed 185 people and it completely destroyed the city.

185 empty white chairs as tribute to the victims

As I met travelers while I traveled around New Zealand last year (2016), I was warned that Christchurch isn’t the lively city it once used to be as rebuilding the city was taking a long time. Some told me to just skip it. Others told me that one day would be just enough. And then they all looked at me like I’d gone mad when I said I booked three nights in Christchurch.

It’s true that there wasn’t a lot going on in Christchurch. Every corner you turned, you’d see a construction site. But I actually enjoyed walking around Christchurch. I found the beauty in the construction and I saw how hard they were working to rebuild the city. And guess what? People still live there. People still find things to do and live their lives. While I may not have needed three nights in Christchurch, I certainly didn’t regret it. Just because something is broken, doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploring.

When I first arrived in Christchurch, it was after dark. After I checked in, I went out to find the supermarket as I needed a few things. It was a bit of a walk and I was a bit nervous. Not because I necessarily felt unsafe – I’ve never felt more safe than while traveling around New Zealand. It was probably because I’d just arrived, it was dark, and I wasn’t familiar with the city and even in darkness, I could see construction surrounding me.

I got over that nervousness quick. And the kiwis I encountered – from the nice worker guy at the supermarket taking my shopping basket to the the bus driver who made sure I got off at the right stop as I traveled to a suburb to meet my friend’s parents who were temporarily living there – were so kind.

My time Christchurch wasn’t as exciting as other parts of my trip around New Zealand but I thought it was beautiful. To each their own. Some would’ve been bored out of their minds but I wasn’t. Of course this was a small stop in a long journey. If I only had a short time in NZ, I would have probably spent it somewhere else. But I had three months of exploring, hiking, walking, meeting people, cappuccinos, and experiences. Three nights in Christchurch was pretty cool. At least I think so. Most of the time, I walked around on my own. I also joined a free walking tour and learned a bit about the history and how the earthquake impacted people.

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens was lovely.

What? Gotta take a selfie.

And the city, in all its imperfections, was beautiful.

This was in 2016. I’m sure they’re still working to rebuild the city now (I was told it may take up to 10 years to get the city back to where it should be). I can’t wait to revisit in the future and see the repaired city!

Have you visited Christchurch before or after the big earthquake? Tell me about it.

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    • It actually wasn’t that scary. I was more worried that I’d feel a small earthquake (as NZ experiences them all the time). I didn’t though.

  1. I’ve never been to New Zealand before, but I love how you took the time to highlight a city that may frequently be overlooked because it’s “broken”. We need more people like you in this world that find the beauty in the small things, and appreciate it. It broke my heart to see the tribute for the victims, especially the little baby carrier – but at the same time I love that they are not forgotten!

  2. The pictures give me an eerie feeling. Especially the picture of the white chairs (and the baby carrier). Must have been a very surreal experience knowing the tragedy they have suffered 🙁

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