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  • Day14

    Feb 4 - Tram ride in Christchurch

    February 4, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Jenny and I decided to get lunch together and then ride the tram for which Linda had given us all tickets. After a nice lunch, we hopped on the tram to see the sights, some of which Linda had pointed out to us when we had taken the long route back from the Antarctic Exhibit.

    Christchurch, with a population of just under 400,000 is the largest city on the South Island and is the seat of the Canterbury Region (like a province or state).

    The city suffered a series of earthquakes between September 2010 and January 2012, with the most destructive of them occurring at 12.51 p.m. on Tuesday, 22 February 2011, in which 185 people were killed and thousands of buildings across the city collapsed or suffered severe damage. By late 2013, 1,500 buildings in the city had been demolished, leading to an ongoing recovery and rebuilding project.

    Evidence of the devastation is still starkly evident everywhere. The saddest example is Christ Church Cathedral which sits almost as it was on nearly 9 years ago. There are huge areas where buildings used to stand; there is one area where rare birds are now nesting on the stubs of concrete pillars with rebar sticking out of them; there is a touching memorial of 185 white chairs honouring the 185 victims; there is scaffolding everywhere. The city, with tremendous grit and resilience, has risen above the horror and carnage of that fateful day and is about 75% finished rebuilding. Building standards have changed dramatically to try to ensure that future events do not cause as much damage. The city is being reorganized into "precincts" with like services grouped together - emergency, law and order, entertainment, retail and so on. It would be interesting to visit here in 10 years to to see the completed city. Such an undertaking must require enormous amounts of patience, logistical smarts, fortitude, and of course, money.

    One building that I didn't get a picture of is the Cardboard Cathedral, formerly known as the Transitional Cathedral. This is a temporary cathedral built to replace Christ Church Cathedral until repairs could be done to that venerable old building. The Cardboard Cathedral is an A-frame structure made of 60-centimetre (24 in)-diameter cardboard tubes, timber and steel. The roof is of polycarbon with eight shipping containers forming the walls. The foundation is concrete slab. The front of the building is decorated with triangular pieces of stained glass. The building can seat 700 people for services and for concerts and meetings. An ingenious solution to a huge problem.

    Several of us trundled down the street to "The Bog", an Irish restaurant recommended by Linda. There was a Irish band playing there that night so the place was almost fully blocked off with reservations. We managed to snag one of the few remaining tables. The food was great; the laughs were many; the music was fun; and the singing was loud. We had a really nice evening.

    Early wake up tomorrow - time for more adventures.
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