Technically, this is the first day I’m allowed to sleep in, but I still find myself getting up at 7:20 anyway. Why? So I can say farewell to Lolly and the majority of my bus mates. Gonna miss this group a ton.
I’m not the only one – most of the people staying an additional day are here to say farewell. Ironically, Lolly’s list of people had a ridiculous number of no shows, and she ends up running ten minutes late just going through the missing people. Hell, even as she’s getting ready to leave, we have people running out of the hostel to get on board. Crazy when you think the original time when they were travelling to Nelson was 7:00.
Once the bus has left the hostel, I crawl back into bed for a few hours, and meander into town. My body has FINALLY stopped wanting to throw up when it sees food, so I let myself enjoy some egg fried rice and dumplings in town while I message my friend Alice to find out when we can meet. She’s running later than planned, so asks if we can meet around 5:30 – that’s fine with me considering how late I’m running from my lie in, and head over to Quake City.
This is a museum dedicated to the 2011 Canterbury Earthquake, and costs $20 to get in. At the start, there’s a video regarding the Maori legends regarding earthquakes, in which a god, trapped in his mothers womb is kicking in order to get out. Once it’s over, you head into the first hallway, which has a timeline of all earthquakes in the Canterbury area, and a excerpt from an article regarding it (except for the quake that predated the 2011 one, in which they’ve cited a tweet just yelling “QUAKE!!!”)
The next section is regarding the start of the quake. You can watch your own attempt at measuring the richter scale by jumping on a spot, and there’s a news video playing showing video footage and one of the first news reports regarding the quake. Following that, there’s a theatre that is showing a dozen Christchurch residents memories of that event, from parents separated from their children, to people injured trying to flee and those trapped in fallen buildings. There’s also two songs inspired by the quake performed, one by a man and another by two young girls.
Following the theatre, you head into the aftermath section, which has equipment and uniforms from rescue workers, in addition to some of the more impressive pieces of rubble. They also have a door carrying a signature circular spray paint motif – a sign that the building had been searched and was now empty of people.
The rest of the museum is mostly focused on the aftermath, looking at the buildings that were irreparably damaged. The cathedral is one of the most obvious victims, but there are other buildings which are now so dangerous they can only be viewed via drone footage. There are however, many pieces from the cathedral (such as a bell) that have been retrieved and brought to the museum or alternative storage for their safety.
The last part of the museum is dedicated to Christchurch’s recovery – looking at what people are doing to try and improve their city. There are volunteer groups and special events, as well as greening up the damaged areas. This is probably the weakest of all the sections, because it’s a little messy and feels disconnected from the rest of the museum.
All in all, I liked visiting Quake City, and I’d recommend going, but I do feel it could be better. The strongest aspect of museums like this is the human aspect, but the theatre can feel a little long winded because it’s a repetitive video loop. You have to sit for the better part of an hour to hear all the stories. A section regarding survivor stories you could read would have been better. I also would have liked more photos of the damage, or even a 3D map of what the city was liked before and after. There used to be an app that would do this, but it no longer exists. It also would have been nice to see a section dedicated to those who lost their lives, especially considering just how high the number was.
I was meeting Alice in about an hour, so decided I’d head back to the hostel and have a shower before heading back into town to meet her. However, Christchurch thwarted me – I got completely lost and barely had time to get ready before she texted me. Ended up getting picked up from my hostel – thankfully its not too out of the way from where she wants to take me, Sumner.
The most obvious aspect of this area is the fact that it has a beach. I honestly hadn’t registered that Christchurch even had a beach, so this was kind of cool. We just walked along the shore for a while, dipping our toes in the water and watching the surfers and cooing over the motley of dogs.
I met Alice about 4 years ago when I was doing a Christmas/New Year trip in the Highlands, the same trip that I met Sunny on. She’s been chasing me to visit ever since I hit NZ, but my plans could never get me South until now. Considering it’s just after Christmas, I’m grateful she managed to make any time for me at all.
Afterwards, we drive back to my hostel and end up having dinner at Speights with her partner and his family. She even pays for my meal, which is awesome and gives me dinner for tomorrow too. Woot!