Nostalgia is a wonderful experience. Visiting an old city, seeing old friends, visiting old bars, shops, and reliving the moments is an experience to be treasured. With Christchurch, we have been deprived.
I visited a full 3 years after the most devastating quake (February 22nd, 2011). In that time, much of the rubble has been cleared, and the city is starting to rebuild. But it was shocking just how much of the condemned old city remains, so long after the event.
I owe more than half my adult life to Christchurch, and I have many friends and family still residing there. It’s difficult to describe what it felt like to see it in this state.
Hopefully these pictures tell at least some of the story.
Mickey Finns and The Rock Pool were two bars in Christchurch that I knew well
The ruins of Christchurch Cathedral. It was once the main landmark of the CBD, and its barely-standing ruins are an emotional sight.
From the side you can better see the steel frame that was erected to stabilise the front of the cathedral after the first quake.
The Chalice sculpture in Cathedral Square in Christchurch happily survived the earthquakes. The flowers at the base are a post-quake addition.
The “Cardboard Cathedral” is the temporary home of the Anglican Church, which was displaced when the original cathedral was destroyed.
This empty lot backs onto Latimer Square and used to be full of buildings.
This was the eastern alleyway entrace to Sol Square, which was the main nighclub hotspot when I lived there. Yellow Cross was never visible from the road, all the empy space in front used to be commercial real estate.
A closer view of the back entrance to Sol Square
Warning signs from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority are depressingly common.
AMI Stadium (known previously as Jade Stadium and before that Lancaster Park), was sadly ruined in the quakes. This shot is looking right at where the Hadlee Stand once stood.
You can’t see it from this photo, but the ground had ripples in it
The interior of a condemned retail shoe shop.
Shooters was a popular bar, and alongside it was Boogie Nights, a disco themed night club. I’m not sure if Boogie Nights was still running at the time of the quake, it had become less popular over the years.
The Strip, on Oxford Terrace between Cashel St and Hereford St, used to be one of the liveliest bar areas in Christchurch.
The Bridge of Rememberance survived, but requires some work to make it safe again.
A contrast between the state of building design in 2007 vs 1986 – despite having been condemned the IRD building pictured here looks pristine from the outside. The CTV building, which occupied the lot opposite, killed 115 people when it collapsed on February 22nd.
One chair for each victim of the quake. Many of them died in the collapse of the CTV building, which once stood in the empty lot diagonally opposite. The site is being made into a memorial.
That’s how long I’d been away from New Zealand, and how long since I’d seen my family in person. But really, it didn’t feel that long. Regular Skype contact and Facebook updates mean that keeping in touch with friends and family on the opposite side of the world is easier than it used to be.
Still, it’s a long time between drinks, and it’s surprising what’s changed.
A city has been levelled. Fast food and beer are about a dollar more expensive. An overweight German geek, whose name sounds like it was invented during a bubble in Y2K, is championing liberal tech policy. State highway one is slightly less of an embarrassment. Bars and shops I used to frequent have gone. My parents have started winding down the old family home in Wairoa. Brothers and cousins have grown up. Friends have gotten married, brought houses, had kids.
But Auckland transport is still shit.
Experiences change your perspective and I’ve certainly had a few of those over the past 4 years. It did feel as though I was looking at things through a different set of eyes. Ironically it’s not until you go elsewhere that you realise what you took for granted, and the opportunities you missed.
What follows is a set of pictures from a very short 3-week trip back “home” to New Zealand. In addition to catching up with great friends, my family and getting plenty of sunshine, this holiday also included a wedding in Wanaka, a 30th birthday on Waiheke Island, Milford Sound and an emotional tour through the destroyed remnants of a city I once called home. But that’s another blog post.
Albert Park in Auckland was on my route to work for a while – I would catch a bus to Britomart and walk over to Grafton. That took 20 mins or so and practically spans the CBD which made me realised just how small it is.
Looking back to Auckland city on the way to Waiheke Island.
Lounging on Waiheke Island
Seaweed on a practically deserted Shoal Beach, near Central Hawkes Bay
A rather large example of driftwood – a tree that succumbed to recent storms
Stopping by Lake Pukaki
Lake Wakatipu, a picturesque lake which houses Queenstown on one of its shores
The road to Milford Sound is a stunning drive. You drive past waterfalls, a gorge and through the very long and steep Homer Tunnel, one of New Zealand’s costliest engineering projects.
Conditions weren’t ideal for us, but the mirror lake is a worthwhile stop on the way to Milford Sound
This waterfall is very close to the Homer Tunnel.
River leading up to The Chasm
Seals lounge on the rocks in Milford Sound
A waterfall in Milford Sound
Lake Wakatipu en-route to Queenstown
Looking back from the top of the road leading up Crown Range to Wanaka
Five short years ago I wrote an article about my desire for a Nokia N900. I was extremely enthusiastic about the device, which I saw as the future of computing and a sign of things to come. I also said:
Personally I think Linux usage overtaking Windows on personal computing devices is inevitable, and this is how it’s going to happen (although the capabilities of the N900 will have to move down to a much lower price point first). We’ll see if I’m right in 5-10 years time.
It’s now 4 years and 4 months later. I was right about Linux overtaking windows on personal computing devices, but I was wrong about how, and it happened far more quickly than I could have imagined. Continue reading →
In what could only fall firmly into the first-world problems category, I’m currently suffering a dilemma as to what laptop I should buy. My requirements are common – a good balance of power, performance and portability. I’ve decided the specification I should go for is:
Intel Core i5 (4th generation, Haswell)
13″ display, resolution at least 1920×1080
I think these specs make for the best price / performance balance on most of the laptops I’ve priced up.
Just picked one of these up at the airport on the way through. They have been going for around £350 for the GX1 body and 14-42mm Vario lens, or £330 with the standard 14-42mm lens. Originally an £800 kit, the discount is because Panasonic is clearing inventory to make way for the GX7, which looks amazing by the way. Far from 2.5x the price amazing however.
The Sony RX100 and Fuji X100S were also on my radar. The RX100 is a great camera and much more compact than the GX1, but it has a much smaller sensor and is still twice the price at around £600. The only snag is that I’m going to have to spend another £200 on a prime to exceed the low-light performance of the RX100, but the result is a more capable kit, and it’s still £100 cheaper!
I also made the mistake of handling the Fuji X100S. It was a mistake because it almost cost me £900, but I quickly realised this and put it down before I could get more attached! That is one sexy piece of kit, and is in a different league IQ and interface wise. I would LOVE one, but at nearly £1000 (!), it’s hard to justify with the GX1 being such a bargain.
The GX1 won’t replace my SLR (no affordable wide angle lens), or my old Canon S90 (not quite pocketable). But it is much much less of a burden to carry than an SLR, will go many places the SLR wouldn’t. I shall be putting it to good use while in Amsterdam!
Google updated its Play Store policy recently, and the changes appear to be designed to reign in spam on its app store. One of the policies reads “Product descriptions should not be misleading or loaded with keywords in an attempt to manipulate ranking or relevancy in the Store’s search results.”
Amusingly, the description for Google’s own Maps app contains a block of text which would do just that: