So I have a confession to make: Until last week I had never, in 20 years (i.e. my whole life) been to the South Island of New Zealand.
Apart from just seven months away last year, I’ve lived in NZ my whole life but had never made it further than Wellington, our capital city at the bottom of the North Island. Finally last week I made it down to the South Island for Georgie‘s 21st birthday celebration.
In September 2010 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook the region of Canterbury leaving buildings unstable and people shaken. This was followed by countless aftershocks including a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake the following year in February that caused unimaginable damage, killing 185 people– the second largest natural disaster the nation has seen.
Visiting almost 5 years later and never having seen what the city of Christchurch had been like pre-quake was still an incredibly heartbreaking experience. I can still clearly remember sitting in front of the TV screen watching the news the day of the February earthquake, so to see what is left of the city up close and how much the city has lost was unbelievably sad.
There are hardly any tall buildings left in the inner city, most have been pulled down and turned into parking lots or the foundations of new buildings are being laid out. It was a strange feeling walking through the city on a Saturday and hardly seeing anyone about, but it’s not all sad news. Places like the re:start mall, a shopping area made up of shipping containers was bustling and full of life, the developments down by the Avon River look exciting and the square around the Cathedral has been beautified. Here’s a few snippets of what I got up to while I was down there:
The whole reason I was down in Christchurch in the first place! One of my best friend’s Georgie had her 21st celebration down in Christchurch, where the majority of her family live. We arrived on the Friday, the day before the party, to help set up. Moana and our friend did a fab job of putting the main centre piece together (thanks to some inspo from Pinterest). The party was lovely, there was lots of drinking lots of food and plenty of laughs!
I saw this place in a FunForLouis vlog a couple of years ago and knew I had to see it for myself! This place has a special touch when it comes to delivering food to your table! If you decide to order yourself some sliders or fries, it’ll be delivered to you through the cafe’s pneumatic tube system (like one of those old post office systems). It was seriously cool. I took a couple of snapchat videos of our food arriving, but like the clever cookie I am, I forgot to save them before they disappeared.
Sumner & New Brighton:
On our final day in Christchurch we drove around to have a look at all the beaches and also to see where Georgie’s family used to live before the quake. It’s hard to escape the roadworks and the roads are still bumpy and uneven all across the city. We first headed down to Sumner Beach and explored the little free-standing cave and climbed up on top.
We then headed over to windy New Brighton to have a walk along the pier. It kind of reminded me of my trip to (the original) Brighton last year, which was just as cold and windy!
It was so lovely to finally make it down to Christchurch and the South Island! I would’ve loved to go to Queenstown as well, but I guess that will have to be saved for another day! It is also the last time I’ll see Georgie in person until I see her next month (omg it’s actually next month!) in Orlando! The excitement is real!