Quake And Shake
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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The earthquake caused widespread damage across Christchurch, especially in the central city (which is still roped off) and eastern suburbs, with damage exacerbated by buildings and infrastructure already being weakened by the 2010 earthquake and its aftershocks. Significant liquefaction affected the eastern suburbs, producing around 400,000 tonnes of silt (the shaking of the earthquake causes saturated soil to substantially lose strength and stiffness and it then behaves like a liquid- you now have homes and other important infrastructure effectively sitting in a mush soup).
Rebuilding looks to be quite a challenge- we were talking to a contractor from England who is emigrating to NZ and he was told that rebuilding effort was predicted to be well beyond 10 years. The total cost to insurers of rebuilding has been estimated at NZ$20–30 billion, making it by far New Zealand's costliest natural disaster, and the third-costliest earthquake worldwide.
It seemed to be a little ghoulish to be wandering around a city that is still struggling to cope and rebuild but the locals are eager to show that they are open for business and moving ahead. We did walk the entire circumference of the fenced-off area of downtown Christchurch- the area is commonly referred to as The Four Avenues and over one thousand of the 4000 buildings within this zone are expected to be demolished (and a further 1,000 require extensive repairs)
So our trip to New Zealand has come to an end and I’m still not sure what to think. It did grow on me as we explored all the nooks and crannies on offer and I developed an unexplained fondness for our trusty campervan, Big Blue. The expense is the first topic of conversation with other travelers, which is never a good sign, and you don't always see good value for the money spent. Is it a top travel destination- perhaps for passionate nature buffs but probably not for me (living in the Big Brother Country of spectacular vistas, and awe inspiring treks and journeys may have left me a little jaded?). The one exception was the thermal fields and volcanic valley near Rotorura- a big Wow and totally justifies a side trip to NZ. And for DH, the time spent with long lost relee's will remain a highlight of our trip here. Staying with the high cost theme, we're off to visit the Northern Territories of Australia!