In the decade city leaders have spent deciding what to do with it, Christchurch's red zone has found its own path. The result is a rare insight into how life moves on after humans have left.


I was a student when the Feb 2011 quake hit, drinking up a storm during Orientation week, down in Dirty Dunnaz.

We felt it, albeit barely - loud music and a raucous daytime party will hide a great deal. But a text from my brother (who lives in Christchurch) sobered me pretty quickly.

"I'm all good, Amanda's good, Chilli (cat) is under our bed". Realizing another quake had happened, I tried calling him to ascertain the damage but he responded again with a text "Shouldn't call, keep congestion down for emergency services" which answered a fair bit.

Sometimes when I visit my brother I head out to these areas - it's like wandering into a Fallout scene, but with a strange hopeful aura as opposed to a nuclear wasteland. It's gorgeous, with that underlying pain of the loss/death that the quake threw their way.

When we first learned the extent of the damage, a few of us gathered together in the coming days, and packed out a friend's Toyota Hilux with bottled water, canned food and blankets we bought from The Warehouse. We headed off up the road but were eventually stopped around Rolleston - which used to be a sleepy little suburb with a pub and a grocery store. Rolleston of 2019 is one of, if not the, fastest growing places in the area. Restaurants, petrol stations, full on shopping complexes. People shifted there when they realized their immediate surroundings were no longer safe.

Anyway we got stopped at Rolleston and they explained they were trying to limit the traffic into the city, the police officers offered to take our provisions into the city to be handed out, given that was our plan we happily agreed and helped transfer it all into a couple of patrol cars.

With that we just headed back home. No doubt it helped some families who had to be setup in the tent village immediately following the quake.

I don't think I've ever told someone from Christchurch that story. Not even my brother. Not sure why, I guess it seems silly in retrospect. We could have just donated funds directly but we wanted to do something and be in the area for the people that were suffering. Maybe knowing these ever-so-slightly hungover students from the next city over had cleaned out the local grocery store of their canned goods, just to trek it up the Island might give them some hope.

The city is doing really well these days - lots to do, lots to be held accountable for. But the locals have a spring in their step and life truly does continue.

posted 244 days ago