Christchurch. It’s not what I expected. I didn’t know quite what to expect as I’ve entered New Zealand on a whim, a really cheap deal on plane tickets that left too soon combined with a busy two weeks leaves me with my only knowledge gleaned from films featuring goblins and wizards.
And although Christchurch is more victorious Gondor after the siege than Lake town after the fire… It sure ain’t that shiny soft filter place where all the elves lived.
It doesn’t help that I’ve arrived from Australia, coming from a country rich from a commodity boom to one that is still shaking off the recession always makes the latter seem… A bit shitty, to be blunt. The opposite was true coming from England to Australia. It was interesting to visit a land that’s doing better than the U.K. and note the differences.
But it’s also interesting to visit a country that’s had an actual double dip recession.
All I’ve done today is walk around Christchurch and it must be said I’ve chosen to mostly walk, and sleep, in not the best neighbourhood… That can’t be how neighbourhood is spelt. Apparently so.
It should also be said that the city has obviously had a succession of devestating earthquakes, collapsing buildings and killing hundreds.
It’s also been raining for a fair old while and since I’m in the habit of Australia I left my shoes outside of my tent… So my views may be as clouded as the skies.
But Christchurch can’t be called a pretty city, because it’s not. Not that I only like pretty cities, but Christchurch feels distinctly like Peterborough… But as you imagine it would be 30 years ago, with half the buildings rubble and the rest empty or scheduled for demolition.
Even the houses miles away from the CBD give testament to the power of the earthquake. Windows boarded, roofs missing and walls held up by scaffolding. Graffiti, the ugly shit not the “arty” Melbourne shit is everywhere. Boarded windows, cracks in the pavement and fast-food joints that are far too busy… And stray cats… Lots of stray cats.
People don’t smile at you when they catch your eye, they nod. The cars are all ten years older and nobody wants their windscreens washed by the groups of men that work when the lights go red. It’s these small things that show the gap, highlight Australia’s mining boom and make New Zealand look wild haired and tired.
It’s nice having a centre of shipping container banks, shipping container shops and shipping container restaurants and it’s nice to have a funky cardboard cathedral… But it’s been three years. Nothing seems to be going up… Everything’s just coming down.
Behind all the rubble is the fact that New Zealand doesn’t have the money to fix Christchurch. That’s a real shame.
But if there’s one thing I didn’t visit New Zealand for it’s the cities. Especially since I think L&P (NZs’ “drink”) is pretty much just lemonade and I’m tired of both drinking and drinking with backpackers.
The green hills in the distance call to me in the kiwi twang that is surprisingly different to Aussie. I just need to get my new card delivered, giving me time to catch up on this, my long neglected blog.