A magical time in an inspiring city
After my amazing Kaikoura experience I then headed South to the city of Christchurch.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of Christchurch. I had first stopped their for a couple of hours on the way to Wellington just after my food poisoning episode and I remember thinking how sad the city was.
Christchurch was hit by a massive Earthquake in 2011 that destroyed many buildings and sadly killed 185 people. The damage was devastating causing irreparable damage to homes, buildings and of course to the security once felt by the cities residents.
The damage is still very evident in the city. The cost of the damage is believed to have been a massive NZ$15billion but repairs are slowly but surely taking shape.
So all in all my first impressions of Christchurch were with a sense of sorrow.
My second visit to Christchurch completely transformed my initial perception. I was invited to stay with the family of one of the followers of 101 Things To Do When You Survive. Trevor had seen my story in one of the local Christchurch papers in 2013 and has been following my journey ever since. He invited me to stay with his beautiful family, his lovely wife Della, his two gorgeous kids Connor and Cara and the friendliest and only dog I’ve ever met who I wasn’t allergic to, Una.
I stayed with them for three nights and had the most wonderful time. Trev showed me around the city and told me all about it and how Christchurch is literally rising from the rubble. The Earthquake really affected Trevor and Della. Trevor suffered from PTSD afterwards and the family decided to travel to try and regain some normality. The earthquake produced 100’s of aftershocks which meant the fear of another catastrophe was a constant reality.
Trevor showed me the damage that had been caused. Buildings with scaffolding holding them up, houses balancing on collapsed cliffs and a damaged rugby stadium resembling something out of an apocalyptic world.
But in between all these areas of devastation were signs of resurgence and hope. The council has commissioned street art to decorate the abandoned and damaged buildings illuminating Christchurch out of the darkness. Street stages complete with speakers, lights, disco ball and a place to plug in your iPod can be found around the city encouraging people to meet, dance and be happy. Shops built out of shipping containers. A huge model of the City created by Italian architect students where people help create by decorating and placing bricks signifying the rebuilding of this beautiful city. A 101 brick was placed on the street where I had first met Trev and Della and Della’s place of work.
I was so taken aback by all these wonderful things. Along with the company of Trevor it really warmed my heart.
I also met up with an amazing girl called Mel who is another one of the 101 Things gang. Mel is a breast cancer survivor and one of the most positive people I have ever met. We met for a hot chocolate and a walk around the city and met again that night for dinner with Trev and the family. She was such a joy to be around and I felt honoured that she got in touch with me.
On the Sunday myself, Trev, Connor and a few of Trev’s pals went fishing. This was my first taste of real fishing. I’ve always wanted to do it and on a gloriously sunny day I stood at the edge of a stunning glacial lake and caught….nothing!:) ha! Such fun though and a great group of guys. They immediately made me feel like one of the gang.
Trev, Connor and I then went to a place called Castle Hill which was absolutely unbelievable. Huge limestone boulders litter the hills resembling an old run down castle. Both Trev and I loved it but I think it was hanging out with Connor that made it extra special. Seeing the excitement on his face as we climbed around the rocks was infectious. Check out the photo of Trev and Connor on the huge rock with their arms in the air. These rocks were enormous. Such a beautiful place and one I would have missed had it not been for Trev.
On the way home we stopped in a place called Springfield. I immediately starting humming the tune to the Simpsons and Trev laughed and pulled over next to a giant pink donut which was given by the creators of the Simpsons to every town in the world called Springfield. Trev came up with the idea of doing our very own ‘donut 101’!
This was such an amazing experience. I met wonderful people, experienced the optimism of a beautiful city and breathed in the air of some of New Zealand’s most beautiful natural wonders.
A huge thank you to Trev, his wonderful family and friends and the inspiring Mel for their generosity and for welcoming me into their beautiful world.
Christchurch, you are truly amazing!
Heart full, next stop Queenstown (I’m here now…blog delay) for some cancer survival training with the mighty Vix!