Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand

 

This was the view of the ChristChurch Cathedral from our hotel window in February 2009. Cathedral Square, which was heavily affected by the February 2011 earthquake, was a center of city activity.

My heart goes out to the wonderful people of Christchurch, New Zealand.  The death and destruction is terrible. I’m sharing in this post some of my photographs of this beautiful city and its residents from a visit there in early February 2009. At the bottom is a link to the Red Cross in New Zealand, originally posted by Greg Royal, known online as Kiwi Bloke.

I’ve posted a link below to another traveller’s blog post showing the beautiful ChristChurch Cathedral interior.

A 6.3 magnitude quake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, just before 1 p.m. local time on February 22, 2011.   Earthquakes often rattle New Zealand, but this earthquake was shallow and close to the city, which is New Zealand’s second largest city and the largest on the south island.  The February 22nd earthquake was less powerful than a 7.1 quake that struck before dawn on September 4, 2010, that damaged buildings but killed no one.  Experts said Tuesday’s quake was deadlier because it was closer to the city and because more people were in the high-rise buildings.

According to the New York Times of February 24, 2011:  “The bodies of at least 113 people, including two infants, have been recovered from a number of heavily damaged buildings since the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck central Christchurch in the early afternoon on Tuesday. Most of the victims have not yet been formally identified, but they were thought to include many of the 228 people still listed as missing, but feared dead.”

New Zealand is at the southwestern tip of the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. The eastern part of the ring runs along the west coast of North America, Central America and South America.  A friend was in Lima, Peru, during a devastating earthquake in that country in August 2007 that killed hundreds of people.  His home in Peru at the time was in Ica, which took the brunt of the earthquake. When he was finally able to return to his home in Ica,  he learned that a huge chunk of concrete had fallen on the pillow on his bed.

This photograph shows the damage to the Christchurch Cathedral on February 23, 2011. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell)

New Zealand is a beautiful country with magnificent scenery, including alpine-like mountain peaks that were created from the earthquakes and volcanic activity resulting when the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates clash. This process continues, which leads to the earthquakes that seem to shake off humans like ants from a giant’s shoulders.  New Zealand’s Alps and other scenery can be seen in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

It’s hard to find a place on earth that isn’t vulnerable to some kind of impending doom, but some human settlements seem especially vulnerable. When we traveled the South Island of New Zealand in February 2009, guides always mentioned past and possible future earthquake activity. One guide said the country was overdue for a big earthquake, yet  no one there seemed to be ready to flee the country to avoid the inevitable.  As humans, we all have our fingers crossed and usually live in a state of denial.

My husband I recently visited another very seismically active area — the Big Island of Hawaii, which is still being created as lava slowly flows from Kīlauea.  Since 1952, Kīlauea  has erupted 34 times, and since January 1983 eruptive activity has been continuous along the east rift zone.  According to the United States Geological Survey, Kīlauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and may even top the list.  Within the last month, lava flows reached a house and barn, destroying them.  The island is also vulnerable to tsunamis from earthquakes elsewhere and has been hit hard a few times in the past hundred years.  I’ll post my volcano and lava photographs in another post.  We in the U.S. Midwest aren’t immune.  One of the biggest recorded earthquakes in our country was in the St. Louis area.  A link to my post about that is below, called “What a Relief!”

Here are performers in Cathedral Square at the World Buskers Festival in Cathedral Square in Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2009. The 2011 Festival concluded on January 30 this year. The festival is held every year in cathedral square. With so much earthquake damage in this area, what will happen to the 2012 festival?

In February 2009, the annual World Buskers Festival was held in the square in front of the ChristChurch Cathedral. The area around Cathedral Square, which is the heart of the city, suffered a great deal of damage during the February 2011 earthquake.

The Christchurch Art Gallery in February 2009. I don't know whether it survived the February 2011, but it was very close to the area of great damage.

Christchurch, New Zealand, looks like an English town with its architecture and lovely parks full of flower beds.

A tourist tram makes the rounds in Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2009.

This bride laughs as she stops her wind-blown veil with her foot. She's on her way to a park in Christchurch to get her photograph taken.

People wait in line to attend a performation at the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch, New Zealand, in February 2009.

Christchurch, New Zealand, is known as the Garden City. This flower bed in a park not far from Cathedral Square shows why.

Red Cross in New Zealand.

About New Zealand.

World Busker Festival.

Kiwi Bloke’s Website is here.

What a Relief! My post about the New Madrid Fault.

Blog post showing interior photos of ChristChurch Cathedral before it was damaged.

Link to a story about Queenstown, New Zealand, I’d saved for a possible blog post.

Below, in February 2009, a bridal couple rested along the Avon River in Christchurch after a photography session.

Wedding Couple on Avon River Postcard postcard 

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7 Comments

Filed under Natural History, New Zealand, Photography, Travel

7 responses to “Earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand

  1. SandySays1

    CS,
    What a beautiful series of photos! Truly artful with great composition. I guess cold weather (in your case) and sand fleas (in mine) are such minor inconveniences when viewed through the prism of what nature can do when she’s in a vile mood. I always enjoy my visits to your site!
    Sandy

  2. Anytime there’s a big earthquake anywhere in the world, I check to make sure there’s a flashlight under my bed. Since I live in Southern California which is long overdue for The Big One, it’s just a matter of time/timing. At least growing up in the Midwest, we could literally feel when it was “Tornado Weather.” Having lived through the Northridge quake, I know how puny one can feel when the Earth rocks and rolls. I was most upset to hear how many of those missing were students from abroad studying English. My heart goes out to all families waiting for a miracle in New Zealand.

  3. It is sad, such a beautiful place! Your pictures are once again, amazing as ever.

  4. deborah

    Kia ora from Christchurch, I stumbled across your site as I am still awake and aware of our broken land and broken hearts, I am so thankful and overwelmed by such great international, love and support, I am trusting in the lord for more miracles of survivors and trying to be present and focus on what I can do in this situation, it’s just so surreal, thankyou to you all you have made a difference for me tonight you help my tears come forth, Kia kaha kia toa, let as continue to be brave and strong and steadfast in our love for one another.

  5. It’s great that you were able to visit and get a series of really great photos. They’re all fabulous but the bride stopping her veil is a wonderful moment to capture. This is so sad and like the others, my heart really goes out to the people there.

  6. It was a bad time! Lovely to see your photos of former times. Hope you have had a chance to look at my blog and see some of the positive aspects that still remain in our city.

  7. This is very fascinating, You’re an excessively professional blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look ahead to seeking extra of your
    wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

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