Earthquake Photos Chch NZ Sat 4th Sept 2010

Re-posting these photos on the 3rd anniversary of the 7.1 quake in my city …  I’m happy to report that although much of our city centre (80%) was consequently demolished because of damage it is well on its way to recovery with inner city shops and hotels open and more on the way.  See more about Christchurch on this blog.

Note, these photos were first published in under 3 hours of the quake.

Earthquake Photos Chch NZ Sat 4th Sept 2010.

Christchurch Bike Tours in quake re-build zone

Now is the time  to visit post-quake Christchurch, New Zealand,  and take a Christchurch Bike Tour in the Rebuild Zone,  This  two-hour, personalised tour of the cordoned-off Rebuild Zone allows you to see the Christchurch CBD rebuild in a safe, personalised and interactive way. It is the first opportunity the public have had to go into the Rebuild Zone on bikes.

You  will enjoy a sensory experience within the cordon as Christchurch Bike Tours guides’ offer information on the new city vision, including the new precincts, community projects and local business stories incorporating the strength and resilience of the people from Christchurch.
Christchurch Bike Tours owner Stephanie Fitts says the tour is designed to give locals and visitors the opportunity to understand the changed nature of the Christchurch CBD and the future of Christchurch as a 21st century city.
Tours are  limited to six people to allow for a personalised and safe experience and you will be required to stay on the bikes throughout the tour and wear closed-in footwear. Of course the route may vary depending on safety conditions.
Tour departures are at 10am and 2pm. Tours are two-hours long, and cost $40 per person, which includes the bike, helmet, hi-visibility safety vest and a local guide.
Bookings are essential by phoning 0800 733 257 or online at
Christchurch Bike Tours was awarded the contract by CERA to run the tours in the Christchurch Rebuild Zone.

Note: this is New Zealand’s only guided city bike tour.

web bikes mona vale

Quake anniversary today – 4th September 2010 – 2012

It’s been two years since I was shaken awake at 0435, 4th Sept 2010, to the 7.2 quake in my city: Christchurch. (see my quake photos from that first day – and do a search on this blog for ‘quake’ for more pics)

Here’s a little homage to ‘the square’, which was the centre of our city – these photos are pre-quake.


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Salute to heros in Christchurch – re-greening the city

Every time I return to Christchurch (which I left in November 2010, but not as a quake refugee – the moving decision had been made a few months before the Sept 4th, 7.2 quake) I’m in awe at the many ways people are supporting the re-growth of the South Islands largest city.

Just some of the heroes of Christchurch

In the south of the city, Sydenham, one of the oldest suburbs, I came across this area – where lovely old buildings once stood – a group of people are greening the area now that it’s been cleared of demolishing rubble  – see more here – regreening the rubble

It’s by  people like this (heroes to me) that the new Christchurch is being built: brick by brick, plant by plant – my hat comes off to you all! It’s people like this, people like all my forbears, who arrived here between 1860 – 1870 (from Cornwall, Ireland and Scotland) and helped build this city and county.

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The story of a grocer and an earthquake, Christchurch, New Zealand

Before the September 2010 quake, just around the corner from my place stood Johnson’s Grocery where locals loved to step back in time: and where I loved to buy freshly cut ham from Colin Johnson in his traditional white apron and delightful manners.

Opened in 1911 as Leigh and Co. it was bought by Colin’s father in 1949 and he has worked there since 1957: this is shopping as it used to be with lollies (sweets) in jars on the counter and cheese sliced from the block with a wire. What I love is how Colin always seems to know exactly where everything is and he climbs up and down a ladder to retrieve whatever it is I’ve asked for.

What do you want? Swiss chocolate; truffles from France; English biscuits or cheese; haggis from Scotland, this shop has them all. Colin doesn’t need to search for stock, people from around the world ask him to carry their special goods.

Colin also enjoys welcoming tourists into the shop telling me “They don’t have to buy anything. They are always welcome to take photographs.” It’s certainly photogenic – the old delivery bicycle on the footpath must feature in many photo albums, blogs and travel articles world-wide.

Then Christchurch was hit by a 7.1 quake at 4:35am. I clung to the bed in my 3rd floor apartment. I heard a few things fall but stayed in bed – thinking if the building collapsed I’d land on something soft, but also worried about being found in the state of my dress – or rather undress! Vanity rules.

Soon up and with warm clothes on, I’d checked out the window and apart from a little concrete block fence that had fallen over, all seemed well in my inner city street despite the aftershocks. I texted this to the National Radio station which was broadcasting reports of this major event in the city of my birth and coffee in hand was also tweeting and posting on Facebook.

By 7am, as the day lightened, I went out exploring my neighbourhood. (See some pics from that walk here)

I take a photo of Johnsons shop window – it doesn’t look too bad

Thirty minutes later I’m going past again – the door is open and a man I hadn’t seen before was standing there.

“Do you have permission to be in there’ I challenge him. It seems Colin is inside and he’s his son-in-law.

"Who are you? Are allowed to be here' I ask
Lots on the floor, but many items still perfectly stacked!
The buildings, including Johnsons, are demolished: ChCh Town Hall. Kilmore St, is in background

And now, Johnsons Grocery has reopened, (November 2011) and is busier than ever. The temporary shop is now in the new container shopping precinct, all bright colours with Colin still in his apron and pencil behind his ear. I visit the day before he re-opens in Cashel Mall re-start  project the shelves are half-full – and put my foot in the wet concrete as I enter! Workmen quickly repair the damage. (See photos from that day here)


Shelves wait to be stocked .. the bike no longer delivers!

I visited a month later and the shop is buzzing, Colin and his wife are busy and happy, and although the shelves are no longer bowed, they are still stocked with goodies from many parts of the world, so, next time you are in Christchurch make sure this grocery shop is on your must-visit list.

This is the first of my Christchurch earthquake heroes’ award blogs: a shout-out to all business who have re-opened (or stayed open) in my city – sometimes under extremely difficult conditions.

See more heroes here

sad photo after earthquake

A shag dries its wings
Some may find it strange that this is one of my saddest photos after the Christchurch earthquake ( the February 22nd 2011  aftershock which did more damage than the original sept one – see more quake Shag Rock information here).
It’s sad for 2 reasons. 1) Shag Rock  has been a background to my life and it’s always sad to lose connections. 2)And,  while I’m also really sad to lose much-loved buildings, we can rebuild them (albeit differently) we can’t  reproduce nature.
I heard it called being called shag stump: although that sounds disparaging it’s at least a nod to its past, and part of the black humour that’s happening in my quake-shaken city – but there will be less shags landing there!
post-quake Shag Rock, Sumner, Christchurch
Pre quake Shag Rock

Buildings to be demolished along with historic & personal memories


A door in the Provincial Chambers - now destroyed

Many Christchurch buildings are to be demolished – along with historic & personal memories. I have just spent a few days in the city I was born in, educated in, and spent most of my life in, and although it was sad to see many buildings either down, damaged or already demolished because of the earthquakes, I was also reassured that much of the inner city will remain.


However, two days after I returned to my new city, NZ’s high quake-risk capital Wellington, the list of buildings that are to be demolished was announced! (see the list here) Now I’m sad again and although this is not the place, I realise I need to write about my reactions to the quakes from the first one in September 2010 – when I clutched my mattress to stop being thrown out of bed  while still vain enough to be worrying about being found naked in the rubble!

In the meantime, before I write that story, and before I put up some photos from last week (stupidly, carelessly, I left my camera in Christchurch – insha’alla or god-willing – and the efficiency of New Zealand post,  it will arrive home tomorrow.

In-the-meantime, here is a photo of St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Church – diagonally opposite the CTV building where so many died – and where I sang in the choir and was married there.  My father (Hector Campbell) learnt to work with stained glass and spent many hours and days repairing the old glass windows there. He was also part of the committee that decided to demolish the bell-tower because it was a quake risk: he later regretted that decision and wished that they had found the money to restore it.

This picture shows the scaffolding that surrounded the church at the time of the quake. It had been badly damaged by fire – in 2009.

The silver, pointed piece, is the top of the lowered bell tower

Animals, birds and earthquake predictions?

Can animals and birds predict quakes, and do they leave an area after one? One of the effects of the Christchurch earthquake means our conversations around the water cooler, and over our fabulous coffee which we Kiwi are very fussy about, means quakes and how to predict them  are high on the chatter topics.

Last night I was talking with friends over the charlatans and soothsayers who seem to think they know things  that thousands of scientists, with years and years of international study behind them, don’t know.  A curse on all their houses I say!

The only good thing is that perhaps they are making people think about creating a survival kit … enough to be self sufficient for 72 hours is the recommendation by New Zealand Civil Defence.

We also talked about ‘birds leaving Christchurch after the first quake’ … as someone who was living there at the time of the September 4th 2010, 7.1 quake, I can tell you the birds never left the huge trees beside my apartment block in the centre of the city!

However I decided to do some research … but of course it’s all ‘after the quake’ research and I wonder how much the people who report natural events are influenced by their expectations or imagination.  This is not a criticism, just a fact of being human.  Police and other agencies have often said – 6 people witnessing an event will report six different views of the same incident.

Here is some of what I found:

The earliest reference we have to unusual animal behaviour prior to a significant earthquake is from Greece in 373 BC.  Rates, weasels, snakes, and centipedes reportedly left their homes and headed for safety several days befor a destructive earthquake.  Anectdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects exhibiting strange behavior anywhere from weeks to seconds before an earthquake.  However, consistent and reliable behavior prior to seismic events, and a mechanism explaining how it could work, still eludes us.  Most, but not all, scientists pursuing this mystery are in China or Japan.” read more of article this here ( Sic. Spelling mistakes as per the website!)

For knowledgeable, scientific  information I believe this NZ site will give you the best information.

Christchurch quake: surviving – tips and help


Christchurch Art gallery -- now Civil Defence headquarters

Need tips and help to survive a quake? Having lived through the Sept 4th, 2010 Christchurch quake, but now living in the New Zealand capital, Wellington, I have some degree of so-called ‘survivor guilt’ now there has been another major quake there – in the middle of the day. (22nd February 2011)

So, with the goal of helping people, even though I’m not in my home city, here are two links – from our Ministry of Health – to help you survive no matter what disaster area you may be in:

Coping with Stress

Coping with Stress 2

Some other helpful advice I remember from my time last year:

  • like on a plane with the oxygen mask – help yourself then help others . think city, act in your street
  • don’t use the toilets or have showers/baths … this puts too much stress on damaged drains and water pipes
  • boil any water you hadn’t stored for such an emergency
  • If you leave your house, turn of the mains electricity
  • And, if you leave the city, make sure friends know .. and leave your fresh food for neighbours
  • Don’t use mobile phones except for text messages – power and phone towers are down so keep the airwaves free for emergency use by those trapped. Absolutely don’t send photos by phones .. the mobile system is many people’s lifeline .. don’t deny them the chance to be saved!
  • Keep in touch by Twitter, Facebook and other social networks – post you are ok so others know and will not keep trying to ring you

Christchurch earthquake aftershock 6.1

Christchurch Cathedral before the quake damage

I shifted from Christchurch, New Zealand, two months after the September 4th 2010 7.1 quake – not because of the quake – and yet today, watching TV in another city, I can smell the quake dust again – such is the power of memory.

This quake feels worse even though I’m not there why? Because I feel so helpless, cannot help anyone, cannot phone friends, thanks goodness for Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with some friends. And thanks to Radio NZ National, and TV3 and TV1 for their coverage.

To date 65-people are confirmed dead, only a few hours after the aftershock.  My thoughts and love are sent to their friends and family — and for those who are still trapped.  I haven’t found out about my mother yet – in Parkwood Hospital.


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