Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Our flight from Napier was about an hour and a half, and we landed in the middle of the South Island, in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. We were pretty excited to visit, but weren't quite sure what to expect. On September 4, 2010 a massive 7.1 earthquake shook Christchurch causing a lot of damage but no fatalities. Christchurch sits directly on top of a massive fault line, which seems to make it a terrible place to build a city until you remember pretty much all of New Zealand is on a fault line. Six months later, a strong, and shallow, 6.3 earthquake hit. While smaller, the intensity of the shaking made it one of the most violent earthquakes ever recorded. As a result 185 people died, and there was widespread damage throughout the city, including the complete destruction of the city's central cathedral. When we arrived a year and a half later, the city centre was still closed and there were a lot of buildings that looked like this: abandoned, destroyed, but not yet demolished. More on this later.


Before hitting the city, we stopped at the Antarctic Center right outside of the airport, recommended to us by a couple friends. We didn't realize this, but Christchurch is the stop off point used for all air travel flying to and from Antarctica. And thanks to a clever placement of tubes of water from the north and south poles, Greg was technically able to stand on both poles at THE EXACT SAME TIME. Also while rockin the Baby Bjorn carrier. Nice.

This was the second of our poor parenting decisions made on this trip (the first being the lion, of course). One of the big draws at the Antarctic Centre is the environment control room where they simulate what it actually feels like to be at the South Pole. We figured between the big coats provided and Greg's body heat, Immy would be totally fine with it. Spoiler alert- she was not fine with it. But here is a picture capturing us so young and naive. 

That's pretty cold, and it got colder. Imogen did not care for it all, despite being snuggled into Greg's coat. We had to bail out early.

 Laurel and Olivia toughed it out for a few more pictures. Here is Laurel in an igloo.

Olivia models the latest in ice-based transportation technology.


They also had a little penguin area, which were, of course, adorable.

That is a lot of ice. About 85% of the world's ice is frozen in Antarctica. There's a mountain range there that's covered in ice. If all that ice were to melt , sea levels would rise by over 60 meters globally. To put that in perspective, the United States would be split into two continents separated by the Mississippi Sea stretching from the Caribbean to the Great Lakes. So... let's not do that.

Below is a sampling of the food supplied to someone traveling to the South Pole. So... let's not do that either.

After checking into our hotel, we headed down to the City Centre to see what it looked like. This is as far as we got. Significant portions are still blocked off and aren't safe for the public to be near.

One really cool thing, is that city planners have taken a unique, hipster inspired effort to reinvigorate the city. It's called RE:Start and is a cluster of shopping, cafes, and food trucks made entirely out of shipping containers. Very cool and very innovative.


Saw this great ad for a maternity/lingerie store. This is just amazing. First off- the name. Second, has anyone ever gotten that dressed up to be just out and about with their baby? Great work, everybody. Great work.

This is the Bridge of Remembrance, Christchurch's monument for war veterans and victims alike. Originally constructed to honour those that fought and died in World War One it became a symbol for all wars. Finished in 1924, it was structurally damaged in the earthquake and is no longer safe to approach. The hope is to restore and strengthen it to withstand future earthquakes, while maintaining the heritage stonework. Here's hoping they succeed.

Possibly due to the circumstances, Christchurch was not our favorite city. Even before the earthquake we had a hard time seeing it as more than a series of suburbs that all ran into each other, rather than an actual formed city. But we're glad we went. It's incredible just how powerful nature is.

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