A photographic tour of Christchurch

This is what central Christchurch looks like these days – still a mass of cordon fences, road works, half-demolished buildings, and vast open spaces that can feel pretty desolate:

On the plus side, there’s cool artwork (official and unofficial), and a lot of the empty demolition sites have been grassed over, which makes some parts of the city feel quite rural:

This is Latimer Square, of course, so it’s always been grass, but those green areas across the street used to be full of tall buildings.

Neil Dawson’s Spires, sitting in front of the temporary cardboard cathedral, but very much inspired by the old one.

The ultimate yarn bombing!

And after a while you don’t really see the fences and road cones any more.  I took this next pair of photos looking in opposite directions from the same bridge, because in one direction all you could see were demolition sites, while in the other it was a classic Avon River scene and you’d almost never know there’d been an earthquake.  Except when I downloaded the photos, I of course realised that there were road cones and cordon fences in the second scene too – I just hadn’t noticed them, they’re so ubiquitous around here…

Some demolition sites have been completely transformed.  This is a cool “nature play” area – a conservation site crossed with a playground, where kids (and big kids) can explore the little stream via stepping stones and tunnels through the garden, and nowhere is off limits.

Other places are pretty much untouched.  This stretch of river bank still has the large cracks from “lateral spreading”, where the river bank slumped towards the river.

They announced recently that the Forsyth Barr building has been bought, and is going to be refurbished as a hotel.  I’m not sure I’d want to stay in it, given its history (it was the building where the stairways collapsed, so office workers in the upper floors had to be winched out by helicopters (while aftershocks still rocked the building) because they had no way of getting out).  I suppose they’re relying on tourists having short memories…
There were a group of people in suits and hi-vis vests standing on the top of its carpark – I assume representatives of the hotel looking around their new investment.

But of course, it being the end of August, what really caught my eye as I wandered around the city yesterday were the little signs of spring.  Most of the trees are still bare and stark, but if you look closely there’s definitely buds on the verge of bursting into life.  And while the council’s official plantings still have winter poppies and forget-me-nots, there’s illicit daffodils and blossom popping up here and there:

The Botanic Gardens are of course the best place to spot spring’s arrival in little bursts of colour:

The classic koru of an unfolding fern always says spring to me.

For the foreigners, if you’ve ever wondered why New Zealand’s sportspeople wear a silver fern on their uniforms, this is why. It’s in reference to this native fern which has a silver underside to its fronds (even more noticeable when you see it almost glowing under the dark canopy of trees out in the bush).

Across the river, the ultimate sign of spring in Christchurch – Hagley Park’s famous daffodils are starting to bloom.

This photo must have been taken by a million tourists over the years – the band rotunda among the daffodils. And from this angle, you can hardly even see the cordon fencing around it…

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  1. Thanks for that interesting tour. One wonders how long it will be before there are actually new areas more or less completed. It does seem to be taking such a long time to make any real progress.

  2. Spring.
    One hardly remembers its cool, moist delights….
    Hmmmm…. perhaps we shall launch a new poetry form. (Never been a fan of haiku… sorry.) We could call the above form the Notku. What what? 🙂

  3. You’ll appreciate this photo journal even more as time goes by and more changes occur. Good job, I especially liked the river and flowers.

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