I spent a few days in Canterbury last week, deliberately staying well clear of the state of emergency in Christchurch following their big earthquake. A hitchhiker from Israel I picked up on the trip down could not believe that the earthquake was the same magnitude as that in Haiti. The very small number of casualties here shows the difference made by good infrastructure. I’m sure the fact that the engineers at Canterbury University are world leaders in earthquake engineering also helped a lot.
I drove from Nelson to Methven and apart from a detour around Coalgate/Glentunnel had a fairly uneventful trip. The church at Hororata showed some damage, but apart from that there was little evidence of the quake. I drove past the church a few days later and was amused to see the effective security in place. The locals had simply run up a deer fence round the church.
I thought this next photograph showed the spirit of the congregation really well:
Methven appeared to have escaped lightly, even though it’s less than 30 km from ground zero. I may be a heavy sleeper, but for three nights in Methven I had uninterrupted sleep, undisturbed by aftershocks. I suspect that the Rakaia River and the substrate around Methven makes a huge difference to the ground shaking experienced.
My son in Wanaka felt the big one and had an interesting observation. He thought that in the areas where he works as a heli ski guide, most of the snow that might have been ready to avalanche had been shaken off. So conditions were a lot easier after the shake.
It does feel weird looking at TV and newspaper reports of the damage and recognising places we used to visit regularly little over a year ago. The fish and chip shop in Victoria Street, the famous Cheesemongers store, plus many others now shut down. Our apartment was just a block away from these buildings so I’m very glad we were not there to experience it.
Postscript: I was sent a link to a great series of photographs taken by Michael Hagedorn, a research engineer at Lincoln Ventures Ltd. They cover the New Brighton area, central city, Lincoln University plus some awesome shots of the fault line and its effects. They are all geotagged so you can see their exact location.