Looking southwest from Paraparaumu Beach




Karapiro to Picton

Picton to Woodend


Christchurch to Ashburton

Ashburton to Fairlie

Fairlie to Awamoko

Awamoko to Middlemarch

Middlemarch to Clyde

Clyde to Invercargill

Invercargill to Bluff

Bluff to Te Anau

Te Anau to Arrowtown

Arrowtown to Wanaka (Twice)

Wanaka to MacKenzie Country

MacKenzie Country and Twizel

Twizel to Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier to Hokitika

Hokitika to Reefton via Karamea

Reefton to Twizel

Twizel to Takaka

Takaka to Picton

For extra photos, click on PHOTO GALLERY above. Autoplay or view individually.

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Charteris BayOld Manson houseLyttelton earthquake damageCatholic Cathedral BarbadoesPiles of reo steelCashel Cubic MallChestnut Orchard CampsiteCanterbury RowingCanterbury Rowing

Christchurch - 25/01/2012 to 27/01/2012

Where do your start in a city devastated by so many earthquakes? Unlike most big cities the residents of Canterbury are normally born here and their families have been here for generations. A lot of Cantabrians will never leave no matter what mother nature throws at them. As a Cantabrian it is quite an emotional journey for me to come here and see the devastation. However, for every bit of sadness there is a sign of the great spirit of Cantabrians, whether it be rebuilding, planting rubble or waste land in flowers or just a tongue-in-cheek sign. On Wednesday we saw a sign that read “buy 1 earthquake and get 14,901 aftershocks free”. I guess you just have to carry on with life, shovel the liquefaction and keep smiling.

We drove quickly through the city to visit Roger’s Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Max in Charteris Bay. An absolutely beautiful spot where you can just block out the earthquake and make out it never happened. They have minimal damage considering how close they are to Lyttelton where the first big earthquake occurred and destroyed so many old buildings. We had a lovely lunch and toured their garden, collecting some tomatoes, apricots and rhubarb for our trip; note that I avoided the green stuff. Roger’s families’ gardens are definitely putting him to shame. [Watch this space! – Ed]

We drove to the end of the coastal road to see Godley House, a historical home that we use to visit when it was a bar/café. It is now a pile of rubble in the process of being cleared. Some buildings in Christchurch have already been cleared but a year on some are still waiting. It might have been better if we had come a couple of months later when it had been completely cleared and recalled what a majestic old building it was with beautiful gardens. However we now have the sad image of skeleton walls, with curtains still hanging and flapping in the wind, overgrown lawns and gardens, surrounded in netting fences with ugly warning signs. As we drove down the road the camp ground had even gone, not to the earthquake though, but probably due to the economy by the looks of the subdivision that was occurring.

On recommendation from Max and Liz we stayed at Orton Bradley Park. It is a working farm in Charteris Bay, parts of which have been turned into a reserve for visitors to picnic, hike the 20kms of track, visit the gardens or see the old buildings and workings of the farm. There is an old stone cottage built by one of Uncle Max’s ancestors, it too has unfortunately succumbed to the earthquake.

On Thursday we woke up to a beautiful day, the sun was out and intense, there was no wind, and no sign of the aftershocks that keep plaguing the area. So after a short walk around the reserve we set off for a look at the city. On the way we stopped in the Port of Lyttelton, an area badly hit, and photographed some of the damage. Please look in the gallery of photos (as indicated top left of the screen) as there are many more photos than the few showing on this page. Our coffee review today was at Samo, a temporary café in a concrete shell of a basement building with the owners living in a bus onsite. The café and its atmosphere are so vibrant in spite of what has happened; or possibly because of it. Just about every second shop has gone, most churches have gone, the historic buildings like the Timeball have been cleared and you can’t even buy petrol as all the service stations have gone.

We drove to Barbados Street to take some pictures of the Catholic Cathedral. I watched a TV program where engineers were surveying the building to see if it could be saved. I guess they lost the battle as parts had been removed and the rest was just deteriorating as more earthquakes occurred. Many streets have gaps where buildings have been cleared and people have put up memorials, gardens and decorations as gap-fillers. On one corner somebody has put an old glass-door chiller cabinet and stocked it full of second hand books. I took my finished book and swapped it.

There was a Busker festival on in North Hagley Park; in previous years we had attended them at the Arts Centre. The high spirited people of Christchurch were there laughing and enjoying the festivities, the greenery of Hagley Park and the sunshine. Meanwhile one block away you could hear the sound of wrecking balls and concrete crushers tearing down what was left of the city. We strolled cautiously into the city, peering through the security fences. There were piles of concrete and twisted reinforcing steel, skeleton buildings and clouds of grey dust. Clarendon Tower didn’t look to badly affected with one or two windows boarded up, but then I saw the disturbing sight of HELP written, in large letters on an office wall, through a window several floors up.

We drove into another part of town to see the new Cashel Street Mall made out of shipping containers, trying to bring life back to the city. It was well done, but still there were those haunting images of shops nearby just left abandoned, stock still sitting on shelves, search and rescue markings spray painted on the door indicating that the building had been cleared, red stickers and those ominous cracks everywhere.

A nor’wester came and stirred up the dust and debris of the broken city, so to get a change of mood, we visited some Marion College rowing families we had met last season. They are living proof that nothing can destroy the spirits of most Cantabrians. Their girls have been going miles away to another school and now they are being relocated again this time to a makeshift school. Their rowing facilities have gone and even the river has changed. Their neighbourhoods are battered. Their workplaces are not the same. But still they laugh, they live, and they enjoy life like nothing has happened. In fact they worry more about the nor’wester drying out their lawns. If you are heading to Ruataniwha this season give their squad of 7 rowers and a coxswain a cheer, “GO MARION !!!”.

We are camping at a NZMCA park-over-property in a chestnut orchard. There are 8 buses all parked between the rows. Park where you like, except on the small liquefaction fault line. We have shovel at the ready as a storm is approaching and we still haven’t experienced an earthquake yet.

Surviving the storm we headed off to Kerrs Reach where all the Canterbury based rowing clubs used to be. Being on the waters edge they were badly affected by the earthquake. The grounds and car park are all cracked and uneven, some buildings have already been removed and others due to go. Some of the rowing clubs have relocated out of town and others appear to be storing boats in the neighbouring hockey grounds, which are more like the rolling mounds of a BMX track.

A lot of the surrounding houses have been red-stickered and abandoned. As we followed the road along the river to New Brighton the sight of empty boarded up ruins and uneven patched roads was not uncommon. New Brighton was no different, it has become a ghost town. Very few shops have remained opened and the streets seemed empty of life.

Tonight we are camping at a reserve in Tai Tapu, the district where the first Brakes settled after arriving from England. Our family name is even on the War Memorial entrance to the reserve for war services.

Also, tonight at 8:42pm, we experienced our first Christchurch earthquake, a 4.6 magnitude, 11km deep and situated near Burham, not far from where we are. Our bus rocked around for a while and there were several quieter shudders afterwards.

Next page...


Canterbury RowingCanterbury Rowing - Kerrs Reach
Canterbury RowingCanterbury Rowing - Kerrs Reach
Chestnut Orchard CampsiteChestnut Orchard Campsite
Cashel Container MallCashel St 'Container Mall'
Piles of reinforcing steelPiles of recovered reinforcing steel
Catholic Cathedral BarbadoesCatholic Cathedral - Barbadoes St
Lyttelton earthquake damageDamaged house - Lyttelton
Old Manson houseEarthquake damage
Charteris BayCharteris Bay