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Devastated Christchurch and Waikuku Beach New Zealand

Devastated Christchurch and Waikuku Beach New Zealand

A very long full rain day riding from Omarama in Central Otago, north of Christchurch to Waikuku Beach, where I’ll be housesitting for another month!  Hey! I spent a fortune shipping my bike from South America to New Zealand.  So I’m going to take my time! I met a wonderful couple who are going to Europe to visit family and tour Italy and while they are away…  I will be looking after 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 turtle, 6 chickens, 12 white doves, 8 (?) parakeets outside, 1 Gallah and 1 Cockatiel inside.

I particularly loved the doves.  Besides the fact they are so pretty, they are free all day to fly around and they come home at night by choice.  Nice!

And this goofball, the Gallah.  He is quite a character and had me dancing and laughing all the time!

HI Gaffa!

The two dogs are as cute as they come and full of energy.  Lucky for them one of my favorite things to do is to go for a walk!

Such a lovely place to spend a month of my life… I like it here and love having the animals around.  Me ol’ mates, now adoptive parents (haha) from the South are coming up to stay with the permission of the homeowners! Yay! They want to show me around Christchurch and even Carole hasn’t seen the damage since the big earthquakes 2 years ago.

More than two years ago in February 2011, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake hit the city, killing 185 people and injuring many more.  I can only imagine what it was like to see the damage 2 years ago, but there is complete chaos even now in 2013.

Our first stop is the Brighton Pier.  Interestingly, it stands just fine!  I would have thought if anything would go down that thing would!  There is a video on youtube that shows it waving, but like the weebles, it won’t fall down! They temporarily closed it for a safety check, but quickly reopened.  A real credit to the builders of this pier!

Brighton Pier, Christchurch

I feel heavy and sad here.  I’m not comfortable walking around this city at all.  I’m not putting the earthquake photos in here to make light of this place.  I remember thinking as I’m walking around that I’ve been in some really rough countries on this journey.  I’ve been in some really bad cities.  But this one is the worst I’ve personally seen and it’s not a fresh disaster.  This is 2 years later!

For any building that might be open, the pipes are on the street for sewer and water.  I’ll let you pick, blue line or yellow line.  Gotta through in a bit of humor, even the Kiwi’s will tell ya! The earthquake ripped up all infrastructure. The city nearly has to start rebuilding from scratch, starting with all new pipes.  Which hasn’t been done yet and needs to before the future new buildings can start connecting.

There were several churches we saw today that have steeples on the ground conserved for a future rebuild.

A LOT of buildings have been completely removed.. That in itself is unnerving to walk around these empty spaces where people made their livelihoods!  The shipping containers are being used to save a historic building facade.  I imagine if you are in the temporary fencing or shipping container business, you are one of the few doing really well in Christchurch!

I just saw this green building in the news. Somebody has bought it!  Must be sentimental value here..

185 White Chairs “Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood is an installation by Peter Majendie, standing on a vacant lot in the heart of Christchurch. Where a church once proudly stood, the 185 white chairs each represent one of the 185 lives lost in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Each chair, just like its owner, has its own distinct personality, with the installation including armchairs, dining room chairs, a wheel chair, and even a baby capsule. The 185 square metres of grass that the chairs sit on represents new growth and regeneration – something which you can see and feel across the whole city. The artist’s statement poetically reminds us all that the ‘installation is temporary – as is life’. ” Written by Elise Boyd in the link above.

On a positive note and a complete change to the sadness, here is what the city is doing that I really liked.. Shipping container shopping!

 Shipping container bank!

 All shipping containers.. impressive!

I think they’ve really organized this well and happy to see some hope here. Even the banks are using the shipping containers.. smart!!

None of us are really sure where this little girl’s parents are.  She is basking for money.  A lot of people are being really creative to earn some money.  There is no question that is going to take YEARS to get Christchurch back on it’s feet.

Back on the road, we venture out to see more.  These shipping containers are doing the job of holding a hill up!

You can see why in the photo below!

The stadium.  A centerpiece for most cities. Looking very modern and new but very closed..  So sad..

I’ve heard that getting windows, darn near everything is on a huge back order.  Remember that New Zealand is an island, and not very large.  Larger countries would have more resources quicker I would guess.

Carole keeps wanting me to sit in the front of the car.  I keep saying no, that I’m happy to ride in the back of the car.  It’s kind of like being driven around with parents and I like it!  But she demands I will see more from the front seat.  The stand off beings.  “No!”  “Yes!”  At the corner stop, Carole gets out of the car and refuses to get up until I go to the front seat.  I locked the door and refused.  (Poor Ross.. he’s got 2 of us!! 😉  The cars are piling up behind us.  She is clearly the tougher lady.  I give in out of guilt for the waiting cars and go to the front.  Score Carole!!

We contemplated the Whitebait sandwiches.  Carole makes the best Whitebait, so we will leave her with the top status and pass these guys up.. haha..

Even the beach rocks are fenced off.. everything is fenced off!

The neighborhoods are surreal.  So empty.  The red zone is where nobody can live.  All the pipes and infrastructure is broken, and the rebuilding has not begun as of yet.  Carole and I got out of the car just being nosey.  It’s like a ghost town and I can only imagine.  What if you didn’t have earthquake insurance.. where did they go?

The city provided these temporary toilets for all residents in most areas.  I can only imagine what it was like to share these with your neighbors every day.  Most residents have moved away. And even during my stay here 2 years later, they had a report on the news that the post is no longer delivering mail to the red zones… I can’t imagine anybody is still living there, but there must have been a few that had no choice.

My visit from Ross and Carole was over far too quick.  They are heading back down South, but it was great to have them here! A really eye opening tour of Christchurch and I can only hope that everyone has found a way to either move or recover from the devastation quickly.

I’m going to be shipping my motorcycle from Christchurch to Melbourne Australia by sea.  Australia has really strict import cleanliness rules, so I start the process of cleaning the bike with a toothbrush.. again!  I just did this from Buenos Aires to New Zealand! I still feel really grateful for all the border crossings I did that didn’t require Tony to be perfect and spotless!  I do appreciate their reasons for this, it’s just nice I didn’t have to do it 49 times to 49 countries… only 2! ;-))

There is only a small window of warm sun during the winter days down here.  And I’m not in a hurry, so I do a little bit each day.

After my nice walks with the dogs! How pretty is it here….

Firefighter Dave was up the next weekend visiting his friends in Rangiora and asked if I’d like to go check out the Antarctic Center.  Sure!  Dave has worked 3 times in Antarctica and has a real passion for it.  He’s worked for 2 countries even.. New Zealand AND the United States.

Replica of Scott Base in Antarctica

It’s fun having Dave show me around because he’s had personal experience with all these things.  What a unique life!

They really want you to get a feel for Antarctica..and do so by offering an ice slide. ha!  Froze my bum!

We were looking at the center’s map and it shows the rest room locations.  That’s all good, but what’s up with the sleeping or dead seal on the map?? 😉

That was actually really cool.  Unlike a museum, the Antarctic Center is a working center, where the scientists are completing studies or preparing for their next season.  Super interesting and thanks Dave!

Back home and I take the dogs for another nice walk.. Sorry to be boring, but I like it and only a couple left before I start packing and moving on.

Poor little Spirit dog won’t leave the fire.. so cold!

Down to the shop to pack up Tony.  He’s going be leaving before me as that ship will be a bit slow.

Tim, a very cool American KTM rider!!!!  Helped me a lot to pack and crate the bike for which they kindly donated from a previous Kawasaki shipment.  Obviously a bit smaller, but we made it work!

Then he had me around to share a July 4 celebration with his super cool American girlfriend (not only American, but from Indiana!!!) who has a serious world record herself.. in rowing across the Atlantic Ocean!  Hoosiers unite! 😉

We just made it a full on American night in New Zealand.  Hamburgers with lots of ketchup!!  And I donated macaroni and cheese.  They brought in the American beer and I was reminded why I never drink beer in America.. ick!!  Haha.. It didn’t take long for Tim and Sarah to drink the NZ beer I brought along.  But it was fun that we could be totally American today..  Independence Day!!

Happy 4th of July!!!

 American Invasion… New Zealand!!  Ok, so it’s a very tiny invasion, but we’re here!! ;-)))

Originally from America. Proud citizen of Australia. Currently riding my motorcycle around the world. 44 countries so far and counting. ;-)


  • July 30, 2013

    Oh wow, I didn’t realize how bad the earthquake damage was in Christchurch. How very sad and forlorn it looks. What I found interesting was the calm photos of your current surroundings where you are house sitting following the earthquake ones. Almost apropos. So very serene. Interesting the use of shipping containers. Are you sad to be leaving NZ? It sounds like you have had a wonderful time there and met a lot of really interesting people. I sure give you credit for all you have done. I found the crate you are shipping your bike back to Melburne in sort of interesting. When we shipped bikes to Australia we had to build them solidly out of wood, screwed together to go inside the big shipping containers. And then the fun getting through Quarantine and inspection and all the permits etc. Good times. Do enjoy your remaining time in NZ. I look forward to more of your adventures.

  • August 25, 2013

    Hi Sherri Jo, it’s the last week of winter in the South, and we have not had a winter here in the SA Bushveld yet… I hope the weather is fine there, and that you get to ride soon, I really miss your posts and photos!

  • October 13, 2014

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest websites on the internet.
    I most certainly will highly recommend this website!


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