In September 2010 there was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake near Christchurch which caused some damage but luckily no fatalities. A few months later, in February 2011, a "smaller" 6.3 magnitude (which goes to show we should probably be using the Mercalli scale instead of the Richter one) struck, this time closer. This caused widespread damage and 185 deaths. The city centre was devastated, with buildings already weakened by the previous tremor. Serious aftershocks continued until January 2012, finally the small tremors ceased in September.

Central Christchurch is still a massive building site now. I guess to get regeneration right takes time: initial emergency response, basic services, damage evaluations, demolitions, planning, funding and construction don't happen overnight. Plus the aftershocks can't have helped. Christchurch's residents stoically continued in business as usual mode, and the vacuum is slowly being filled not only by contractors but also by the citizens themselves, artists, and heaps of imaginative improvisation. A great example is the new shopping area built out of freight containers which have everything from designer shops to restaurants to banks.

We didn't spend much time here to admire a city getting back to it's feet. After coming in from the campsite on the bus we had bought the kids a pair of scooters (and helmets) and were busy chasing after them as they sped through the rubbled streets. Ended up in the park and from there walking all the way back to the camper. Didn't like our campsite very much so this evening we have changed to a different one.

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