This morning, I was supposed to be joining the tri club training session, but I slept in and had drunk just a little too much port the night before (never tried port before, Eamon’s father bought out a few bottles that had survived the earthquake and I decided I rather liked the vintage(not sure how old vintage is, have a feeling a fair few years), everyone else preferred the 10yr port… which left me with the vintage) .
So with no specified training to do, I felt it best not to do any. So instead decided to go on a mission to the CBD. They have opened up a few of the cordoned off sections now… which pretty much means that you can now look through a hurricane fence at the worst hit areas.
I drove down Madras, past the Polytech, Rakia centre and NS block looks fine, not that looking fine means much, but no fences or drop zones around, so they should be back in business soon. This is how I used to drive to work, so it’s almost automatic, as you turn into St Asaph street, you are more concentrating on your driving than looking around, but you glance over your shoulder and see the back of Mckensie and Willis, and you remember why you are here. So I pulled over and got out to have a walk around.
The brick buildings down high street all look smashed from the back.
Manchester street: look right, debris and buildings with their faces missing, don’t recognise anything. turn 180 degrees. Shite this is the corner of Scotty Browns old shop. Tru grit, is gone, is that Scottys next door, still standing? its hard to tell
Colombo Street: The building on one side, the sports store, practically looks fine. The display in the shop window looks untouched. The building on the other side is screwed, not just the face but half of the top floor is gone. You try and remember what this was, but have no idea. St Asaph st is quite a way down from the centre so I don’t normally come out this way much. Turn around and looking towards south city and it is almost normal, apart from the cones and the odd building blocked off. I decided to walk to have a look at the smith city car park, its gone, just a pile of rubble from the diggers…. and a few completely squished cars.
Head back to the car, and have a closer look at McKensie and Willis again. The trading store is munted. Theres something spray painted on the window and I try to work out what it says. Eventually get it… There is a sign say “Yes, we are open”, someone has spray painted over and says “No we’re Not”… makes you smile.
I got in the car again and drove around the corner to park near Durham St
Cashel Mall: Walk up cracked steeps to the bridge of remembrance. The arch looks fine, no damage done. The mall behind it is in rubble. You don’t pay that much attention.
Continue to walk along the river, they river looks amazing. The water is clear practically blue in places, probably because there is nothing that badly damaged up stream. You look across at the bars in the strip, theres a little damage but not much, the chairs etc are all still out from that lunch time (it is 6 weeks on).
Hereford st: much the same, the police building and city council buildings look good
Worcester st: You are more preoccupied with the old building on the corner and Clarendon towers, that you forget looking up the street you will see the cathedral… and when you do you get a shock. Not that you can see much, it looks like someone has taken a bite out of the side of the cathedral. On Clarendon towers, you can see where someone must have written HELP on the window because they couldn’t get out that day.
Gloucester st: Now I am getting to “my part” of town. Looking down Gloucester doesn’t look that bad, but the old gothic building on the corner is in rubble. It looks like it’s untouched since the quake and in ruins. The first time this morning I feel like crying. I don’t even know the name of the building or what it was used for. I have barely given it a glance in the past, its was just part of the city.
Armagh St: As far as I can go, the provincial chambers doesn’t look that bad, apart from the stone section spewed onto the road. The tall buildings Forsyth and Price Waterhouse still stand, but how much longer? Forsyth Barr has large green numbers on every floor marking them.. for what purpose? who knows maybe so people can keep track of them if they are using an outside lift?
As I turn to walk back, a tour group glides towards me on those 2 wheel stand up motorised things (name escapes me). The tour guide explains why the gothic building crumbles as it did.
I love it! The poor tourist trade in CBD is screwed, but this guy has got his act together and is making a tourist trade out of the crumpled buildings. I am sure we can sell this more, people love to see this stuff, get them here
I walk back to the car via Art gallery. While other people on the street are looking everywhere else I just stop and admire this most amazing building. I can’t say I loved it when they first built it, but it grew on me and I loved it, but now its an awesome building, it looks completely unscathed.
St Elmo’s courts is almost all gone, the diggers are still working and piling the debris on the trucks. The Arts Centre, while you know its damaged you can’t see that much more damage than you did after the first one. The Cheesmongers shop stands alone with a green sticker 🙂
And that was all I saw, I didn’t try to get to the other side of Durham and see Strategy building, it was supposed to be “deconstructed” on Monday, than it was Friday, who knows when that will begin.
And no, I took no photos, there are enough photos out there, I have seen most of what I described above in photos, but seeing for yourself is a whole new experience.