Stray No More and Christchurch
Like I began my Stray adventure, it was only fitting that I ended my adventures on Stray Bus also in confusion. When I booked my Stray trip, I purchased the Willy Pass. If I cared, it would have been possible to know the location of each and every overnight stop. Some overachievers on the bus did. Others, like myself, just knew the major cities, and were surprised by the stops in between. One girl I meant had her entire Lonely Planet New Zealand guide book color coded with tabs on all the major destinations. Not for me. In fact (AND I DO APOLOGIZE LKD), I donated my Lonely Island travel guide to the Adventure Hostel in Queenstown. Half the fun is finding new things by making mistakes and talking to new people. Plus I carry everything on my back. It was super heavy.
Anyway, I knew my route ended in Christchurch, but I had assumed it would end in Christchurch in the evening. Since we typically spent nights in major cities, it seemed logical. Oddly, we spent the night prior to my arrival in Christchurch in a small rafting cottage on a farm 1 hour outside of Christchurch. The bus didn’t even actually go into Christchurch, only to the airport.
The result was that I arrived at the airport next morning to Christchruch at 9 am. I was planning to arrive in Christchurch at 5 pm. I had scheduled a LOTR tour for the following day so now I had an extra day in Christchurch. Sometimes it is fun to have no clue what your day will bring.
I took my extra time in Christchurch as an opportunity to walk around and look at the city. In 2010 and 2011, two major earthquakes rattled Christchruch’s central business district. The second earthquake did the most damage resulting in 185 deaths and nearly 2000 injuries. Three years since the incident and the town is still recovering. Sadly most buildings in the central business district had to be torn down since the grown was fractured and weak, and most no longer adhered to the stringent building codes required by the government. Other buildings were simply destroyed.
The result is more or less a war zone. The city center is dead and the majority of life now takes place in the suburbs. In total, city planners expect the rebuilding to take 20 years. The citizens I talked to regarding the earthquakes seemed optimistic. They told me, “It’s not very often you get to build a city from scratch!” I n fact, since they get to completely redesign the city, every aspect, I’m told, is being customized to develop the ideal city.
Progress had already taken place. The city during the daytime is busy with construction workers bustling about. Though, come nightfall, the streets become empty and eerie.