A city climbing out of a very bad earthquake three years ago...
10.01.2014 - 12.01.2014 65 °F
We flew into this city, looking down out the plane window at the Southern Alps. It was beautiful & all the Butz’s were happy to be returning to NZ. This time in the south island, headed on a whirlwind driving tour. Our first stop was Christchurch, a city who in 2010/211 had 2 terrible earthquakes, one in the county of Canterbury, and the other city center. Devastatingly, it rendered 70% of the city centre unusable. Many lost their homes and businesses, as one Italian Bistro Owner explained to us as we had dinner in his second and ¼ smaller temporary location a few kilometers away. (By the way, the food was some of the best we had on this trip.) Many people had to move away to temporary housing or relocated altogether to find work. Needless to say amongst this sadness was some really cool hope that shined through the bareness of this concrete and fenced up town.
For instance, a playground that was put together by some local artists made out of recycled pieces of the rubble. A Re:Start mall constructed out of shipping containers where in merchants popped up their shops and designed a store front, a promenade, and it has become more popular than ever, mainly attracting the hip, the innovative, the artisians, and the tourists. There are many other merchants out under tents, like a farmers market. It was certainly the urban city fix I needed after spending 4 days in the bush of AU!
The next morning, we went to the center for Antarctica. It is an actual scientific site and hub called the gateway to Antarctica, and there is a tour and museum, and a ‘Disney-like’ experience that tourists can pay to do. We ended up being in there for 3 ½ hours completely entertained with a real -13 degree celcius winter storm, a ride on a Heggland (a Swiss tank used to travel around the ice mountains, cliffs, and can withstand ice breaks and go under water up to 3 meters) and feed blue penquins, and go through an interactive weather, history of exploration, and current scientific studies happening on the continent. It was Very informative, educational, and the kids had a blast (especially when the quirky ranger, Lindsay, took a shining to them and took them behind the scenes INSIDE the penquin exhibit!!!).
Our motel was quite a juxtaposition of 1960 meets modern day. The society in general is not a disposable one like our culture in the states. Besides being very environmentally friendly, it is also very exoensive here, and so if a stove or fridge still works, it doesn’t get replaced. Things are well made, well preserved and taken care of, and not just replaced when the new style comes out. So with that being said, our ‘boutique’ motel was very vintage, but had a modern restaurant attached, and free wi-fi- and flat screen TVs. Very strange but strangely nice.