My first visit back was on Saturday, a day before new and significant aftershocks hit. We were lucky enough to have not lost anyone close to us in the quakes but walking around the city certainly felt overwhelming at the magnitude of the loss of lives and livelihoods.
When I lived in ChCh I struggled to get my bearings when landmarks were in place. Finding what's missing was even harder. The mixture of new, beside condemned but still erect, beside demolished is very strange indeed. In the centre of the city rebirth is evident yet fragmented by what remains. Footpaths are still damaged and closed. Buildings are in varying states of being.
Our first port of call was Chester St East. Shockingly that rundown former row of old student flats are all rebuilt and looking awesome as part of a heritage project. The same can't be said of its surrounds. The bar I loved across the river in the band rotunda gone (partially wrapped so there is hope).
En route, we walked through "the" playground. Inspirational in size, scale and function. There were hundreds of people on a warm still Canterbury evening there with water jets to cool kids off.
Paul Henry you are wrong! This playground forms a new heart to the city. We heard squealing with delight as we walked by. Steve observed many of these kids have only known ChCh post earthquake and how awesome for them to have this amazing asset.
There are many items to inspire in the ChCh CBD. A plant swap garden and a community garden amongst other community projects. Artwork galore. So much to experience visually.
Then standing in what was Cashel Mall I wanted to cry. The devastation. So many shops and buildings I loved gone, Ballentines standing almost alone now. Impossible to imagine what it was like for those in the CBD during the major earthquakes.
Here is our photo essay. The inspiring amongst the rubble. My memories of that ChCh I lived in are still intact but, like most kiwi's I will never forget these earthquake events and the mark they have left.