looking Around a City Reborn

Happy New Year everyone. For the first post in 2021 I thought I would something slightly different from previous posts and share with you some images from a trip taken to Christchurch in early September 2020. The reason for the trip was to attend a council meeting of the Photographic Society of New Zealand, and it occurred just after the country had come out of higher Covid restrictions following a second outbreak in Auckland.

Social distancing was still in place on a travel and so the seat beside me was empty. You also were required to wear a mask which fortunately arrived a couple of days before. Many people will already know how challenging it is to wear masks and this took a bit of getting used too. I took this selfie at the airport as I was about to board the plane.

All of the travel advice I had received was to arrive in plenty of time as not all checkin kiosks were in use. As it turned out I needn’t have bothered because the airport was fairly deserted.

Christchurch airport has a combined domestic and international terminal and is the main secondary international arrival point in the country. Most of the flights come into it from Asia so the airport is generally full of lots of different nationalities . With borders closed due to COVID-19 it was eerily quiet.

The way that New Zealand was keeping the virus out hit you right in the face as you left the terminal. The Sudima Hotel is one of the quarantine facilities that all people coming into the country have to spend 14 days. It was surrounded by high fences and groups of visitors were wandering around the exercise areas.

The meeting was not scheduled to start until the Saturday, however we have been requested to travel on the Friday, so they could start first thing in the morning. I decided to travel down on a morning flight so that I had time in the afternoon to go for a wander and have a look around the city.

Christchurch was extensively damaged in a series of earthquakes 10 years ago and the recovery has been very slow. I had not been down there for a couple of years so I was really interested to see how the development was coming along. The city is still full of empty spaces and quite a few have now been turned into parks with art pieces.

The building in the rear of the image is one of the few high rise building that actually survived in tact. While only two building collapsed (which accounted for most of the 185 killed) a significant number of others were damaged and therefore demolished. Newer building in the city all tend to be lower than the ones that they replaced.

Christchurch is a major tourist location and it was amazing to see the city so empty. Most noticeable was the absence of tour buses full of Asian tourist. That was having a major impact on the local economy so I found the sign below in a window rather amusing.

In the middle of the city is a rather unusual nature reserve. When one of the towers was removed a number of years ago the below level structure was left in place, and the basement filled with waters. Yellow beaked gulls (which are apparently endangered) decided that it would make a great breeding colony and set up nests amongst the tangled reinforcing steel.

I understand that the original plan was the allow the bird to nest for one year and then to cover the steel with mesh so that they did not return the next. Not sure what happened to that plan but the birds no regard it as their place, and it will be interesting to see the fight that any future developer is going to have when they want to rebuild.

As I mentioned above art as been springing up all over the city both in terms of sculptures but also in the form of art on buildings. Some of it is very impressive as this example shows. It is on the side of a building currently being used as a boutique movie theatre.

While there were a number of new buildings and retail complexes I was surprised at the number of empty sections and also buildings that still need to be demolished. On some nature had begun to reclaim them and i was amazed to find a tree growing out of a building two stories up an old building.

For the shot above and the one below I actually climbed around the security fencing to get a better angle.

Just on the outskirts of the city centre is Hagley Park. I knew from seeing others photos that at the time of year it contained large areas of daffodils so I headed in that direction. I first went into the Art Centre and I loved the shadows created by the railings of one of the gates with the later afternoon light.

The daffodil fields were quite impressive and in fact none of my images really did them justice. I did, however, spot this group of young mums out on their afternoon stroll.

It was a great afternoon just ambling round and taking photos.

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