When we left Christchurch after the earthquake, neither Marina nor I had any doubt that we wanted to come back to see what was left of the city. Before going back to the North Island, we decided to spend 5 days in Christchurch.

We were incredibly lucky when we contacted Matt from Couchsurfing: he has been amazing!! His house (soon known as Mattpackers) is crowed, busy, funny, happy. One of those places where you can never be bored or feel lonely. They made us feel like home. And believe me, it wasn’t easy in a city that still shakes several times per day. Matt, thanks!!!

The sad part was that coming back to Christchurch was way more traumatic than we expected. The city center is still closed by the army, there is still danger of buildings to collapse, there are thousands of families still without water or electricity. Everywhere you look there are signs of the strongest earthquake ever. Everyone has lost either someone, or a house, or a business.

Matt took us by car to see whats remaining of the city. I have the feeling that Christchurch had to be amazing. Unfortunately, I will never know. Again, I just want to wish the best to the families of all the victims.

Judge it yourself:

 

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floor crack in a supermarket

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bridge

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another crack in the floor

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random building in Christchurch

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rocks destroying a building

 

This is just a sample of what we have seen. Besides the buildings, we have also met a lot of people from Christchurch, whose strength facing the destruction was shocking at the beginning, but taught us a lot.

Matt, again, thanks for taking care of us.

South Island, we’ll miss you! Definitely, the best scenery ever!

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Finally Thursday morning we could catch a bus to Queenstown, from where I am writing now. So we are perfectly safe, no worries anymore, I hope.

After having a shower and sleeping in a bed for more than 12 hours, all that we lived seems more like a nightmare. Things take perspective, and in my mind, all I lived in Christchurch was someone else’s dream.

We still can’t believe how lucky we were. Yes, lucky. We landed 5 minutes after the earthquake. If we had landed 5 minutes earlier, well, I don’t want to imagine what would have happened. The people that we met told us that the earthquake was long, strong, it was impossible to stay in the same place, and the people who were driving at that moment felt like they were about to have a car crash, loosing total control of their vehicles.

When we arrived to the hotel, evacuated, we thought it was a matter of hours. Nobody thought the catastrophe was that extensive. As hours were passing by we all realized that we lived one of New Zealand’s most destructive earthquakes.

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sleeping in the hotel floor

After spending the first night at the hotel, were they gave us dinner and breakfast, we went to the airport and bought some bus tickets to Queenstown, whatever to escape from there. The second day, Wednesday, we moved to the airport instead of going to the Welfare centers that government was providing, but we thought it was easier to catch the bus from there on Thursday morning.

At the airport we saw all the arrivals of civil and military help. Civil Defence gave us food, drinks and blankets. Sometimes we thought we didn’t need all that help, but then we looked at ourselves and we realized that we were evacuated from the damn earthquake. It’s something difficult to describe.

On Thursday morning we took a shuttle to the bus stop. It was the first time that we left Christchurch’s airport. On the shuttle we understood the wide of the damage. We saw the destroyed churches, the houses, the roads. All entrances to the center are closed by police and militars.

We finally could get out, but hundreds of people are stuck there, without water supplies and without electricity most of them. We were really really lucky.

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collapsed building in Christchurch

So, yesterday we spent the night at the hotel evacuated. After so many hours just watching the news was exhausting. Every minute there were more death people, more buildings collapsed and we were more overwhelmed by the whole situation.

This morning we woke up with the feeling that this was going to take much longer than anyone expected, but after some hours the domestic flights started working at the airport. I went to have a look and the airport was totally crowded with people trying to escape from Christchurch.

We tried to rent a car, a campervan, to buy bus tickets to Nelson or Picton, but nothing was available or there was no accomodation there. Finally we found a bus ticket for tomorrow morning to Queenstown, a quite big city where we expect to find accomodation.

In the hotel they told us that we should move to a Welfare Center, but as that’s quite far, we have decided to stay at the airport in order to catch the bus in the morning. Here there is a lot of people staying too, either waiting for flights or because they have nowhere else to go. We have been given blankets and at least we can buy some chips to eat.

We are perfectly fine, just tired. Is the second night sleeping in the floor, feeling the aftershocks every hour, knowing how lucky we have been. Thankfully we still can get internet connection from time to time, so that keeps us distracted from the terrible news and the long wait.

Tomorrow we have 8 hours in a bus to Queenstown, and the only thing that we want there is to have a shower and get some sleep. Our trip in the South Island needs to be re-organized.

Christchurch, the city that we will never be able to visit. I wish the best to all the families with missing people!

Last minute update: people have sent food for all the evacuated ones. Thanks! You can’t imagine how much we apreciate a glass of juice, an apple or an orange. It’s amazing to see how people help each other in this circumstances. Here at the airport we were almost crying when we could eat something that wasn’t a bag of chips!!

We just landed to Christchurch 5 minutes after the first earthquake happened. We went out of the plane and there we heard sirens and saw policemen evacuating the airport. While running we realized that an earthquake just happened, and when we did realized there was another earthquake, or aftershock, however you want to call it.

We were incredibly lucky to land after the big one. We were evacuated to a hotel as soon as we got out of the airport, so we are perfectly safe and with our luggage. We’ll have to spend the night here, though.

I think the most horrible thing has been watching the news 8 hours in a row. We didn’t know how hard the whole thing was until we started seeing images of those buildings collapsing and all that was happening in a city that we will never get to see properly.

Christchurch.

I’m so sorry our arrival had to be this way!

So, we’ll try to keep you updated about this. Anyway, just let you know that we are safe and secure. No worries.