It’s spring break at Green School and we decided to take advantage of the long break and venture to New Zealand. We’d both always wanted to visit and now seemed like a good time. I would have thought it would be easy to get to New Zealand from Bali but, actually it’s a long trip! First we had to fly to Brisbane (5 1/2 hours), where we spent the night and then, the next afternoon we flew to Christchurch which was another 3 hour flight (not to mention the five hour time change!).
Despite feeling a little jet lagged, we had a great day here in Christchurch. As many of you probably recall, Christchurch suffered a devastating earthquake two years ago (last month was the two year anniversary). We were told not to bother spending time here because most of the city had been destroyed and there wasn’t anything to see. On the surface that is mostly true — however, it was fascinating to see and hear the stories of people who lived through the quake and learn about how the city is moving forward.
We took a bus tour of the city (I guess I secretly appreciated all those tours my mom dragged us on as kids — now I get to torture my own kids!). Some of the details that emerged about the quake were pretty terrifying (especially, for those of us who live with the constant threat of “the big one” looming). Apparently, it was one of the most intense quakes that has occurred on the planet in recorded time, due to the “peak ground acceleration (PGA)” of 2.2 (for you non-geology majors or non-Californians, that is a measurement of how fast the ground was moving up which meant, in this case, it moved up so violently that people were actually thrown into the air!) In contrast, the Haiti earthquake only measured a 0.5 PGA. Sadly, 185 people were killed and, of those, 115 died in the collapse of one building. That building was only six stories which collapsed onto each other, leaving the sixth floor relatively intact allowing the people on the sixth floor implausibly, to walk away from the rubble. There is a memorial of 185 empty white chairs displayed prominently across from where that building stood. Over 80% of the buildings in the city have been or will be torn down and the city is in the process of rebuilding. They have embarked on a plan that will virtually rebuild the entire city center and environs. Ultimately, when the project is complete, I’m certain it will be an enviable place to live and work.