Earthquake! (Part 3): A walk through the CBD

May 18, 2013

I know I already wrote a bit about the Canterbury earthquakes, and posted my photos of the aftermath. I think every expat that lands in this city has to come to terms with it. Which can take some time. While I prefer to call Christchurch quirky and up-coming, plenty of people call it depressing. There is one thing we can all agree on: there are a ridiculous amount of road cones and I sure wish I owned that company.

CBD is short for the Central Business District, aka: what was the thriving and bustling heart of downtown Christchurch. Picture large Victorian stone buildings, massive trees, a romantic lazy river… expensive shops for well to do travelers, street performers, bars bursting with rugby fans, and a street bazaar with worldly treasures. Don’t forget to hop on the cute little trolly to get from one side of the CBD to the other, from the trolly you can get a quick glimpse at the numerous stone fountains and lazy park nappers. How there can be so many parks and statues inside one downtown I don’t know. But it sure makes it pretty. Interesting little pedestrian alleyways lure you in with delicious coffee aromas and promises of sweet Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The baskets of flowers over your head are pouring out with petunias, and you wonder if you are in New Zealand? Or London? Or France?

I’m glad I got to experience it. Because that’s all gone. A lot of Canterburians find themselves avoiding the CBD because it is too heart wrenching for them. And I actually found myself inadvertently avoiding it just because traffic doesn’t run through and when we moved here, there wasn’t much to see (besides totally munted buildings). So I went back the other day because I heard that New Regent Street, a small brick road with shops and restaurants and a cute facade, had reopened. I was pleased to find it opened and half full of business, with many more on the way. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much more of the CBD is “opened up”… at least the streets are walkable and drivable, and a lot of the Red Zoned buildings have come down. Immense progress in the 4 months since I’ve last really cruised around the CBD.

New Regent Street
Will have to check this out.
Looking down New Regent Street…
Hard to miss that building at the end.

So that’s kind of what being in the CBD feels like. Have a $40 lunch of Manuka Salmon and Rocket Salad beneath the leaning tower of earthquake destruction. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is pretty fascinating.

Peering through the windows: An untouched interior of your favorite corporate coffee company


Don’t worry kids, the window says Starbucks will be OK!
Next door to Starbucks, the inside of Just Jeans.
A little fence art?
Sure Christchurch, why wouldn’t you put comically oversized astroturf furniture in the center of the rebuild?

As most of you know, we were in Christchurch 2 years ago, just days before the February earthquake. Had I known we would never see it like that again, I would have taken more pictures. I only have a couple… but here’s my before and after shots. Kind of interesting…

Darling downtown CBD
Well, the wheat is still there…
Yep, we all know it’s gone now. But here’s my personal photo of it.

So there’s a reality here that expats and visitors alike have to be aware of. However, there’s also a very real revival happening. There’s tons to do and tons to see, from Quake City for those of you that are morbidly interested in the earthquakes and damage, to Hagley Park, for those of you who prefer nature and ducks and flowers (like me)! Actually I wrote an article about all the things there are to do in Christchurch (for cheap!) so seriously, don’t let the earthquake put you off. They’ve done a lot in the last 27 months… there’s just so much to do.

In less dusty cone zoned times…

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