Avoiding Earthquakes in Canterbury
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, you probably know there was a massive earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand in February that left countless homes & businesses destroyed and stole many lives as well. Since that time the whole Canterbury region has been experiencing aftershocks–just about every day. Some are very small, others a bit more noticeable.
So you can imagine that we were hesitant to visit Christchurch, much less stay there with a host. But we didn’t want to live in fear and miss out on seeing New Zealand’s second largest city.
So to compromise, we found a host on the Banks Peninsula, about an hour outside the city. We stayed with Brad & Marie and their kids Leo & Felix in Decanter Bay.
Not bad for a backyard, huh? The house itself was an historic homestead with a plethora of organic gardens, which we worked in every day, pulling weeds, turning compost, planting garlic, and transplanting hazelnut trees.
Brad grew up in Manhattan and met Marie in Seattle. She came to the States for university from France. Add to the mix a Kiwi who was half Chinese, and her two girls Samantha & Charlotte (who moved into the cabin on the property after the Christchurch earthquake), and you have a melting pot of cultures in one house.
Unfortunately, the clouds decided to move in and stayed in all 5 days of our stay. We worked in the rain a bit and got plenty muddy, but we learned a ton about gardening and cooking (especially breadmaking!) from Brad, who did most of the cooking.
On Saturday, we packed up and drove to Akaroa, originally a little French settlement. It was dark and cloudy that day, so there wasn’t much to see (and the town was asleep for the winter!), but I can only imagine it must glow in the sunshine next to the water and the hills of the peninsula.
Moving on from there, we decided to venture into Christchurch on our way to our next host. We drove as far as we could into the city centre before barricades prevented us from going any further. So many businesses stood empty, often surrounded by piles of rubble. It will be a long while before Christchurch is rebuilt.
We managed to avoid any earthquakes or aftershocks while we ate lunch in the South City Mall. Realizing there really wasn’t much else to see in the city, we made our way an hour and a half north to Cheviot. Here we stayed with Sanna and her husband Ellis, who was in South Africa diving with Great White sharks as a travel show television host (!) Sanna is a personal fitness trainer, so I was able to help her put together nutrition guidelines and recipes for her clients. Drew’s job was creating a website for Ellis the adventurer, TV host, & author.
We had limited time to stay here because of conflicting schedules on both our parts, but as soon as we arrived, we knew we would want to come back. Not only was the web project a fun one to tackle, but Sanna invited us to use the workout gym in the garage or watch as many movies as we’d like on their big screen TV (and wow-that was one big DVD collection)!
She also took us down the road to Ellis’s parent’s house to visit their alpacas. You may know that I have a strange love for llamas, and alpacas are often considered smaller (and generally nicer) versions of llamas. These were no exception. So cute!
A short drive to Gore Bay also afforded us some fantastic views of Cathedral Cliffs.
The day we left Cheviot, Christchurch got rocked by two more earthquakes, leaving much of the city without power and the streets flooded. Already on the Kaikoura Peninsula further north, we felt nothing, but Sanna emailed us telling us she felt the whole house shaking there, even being an hour and a half north of the city!
We’re excited to return to Cheviot at the end of July to stay with Sanna and meet Ellis, but here’s hoping we can continue to avoid earthquakes (or any other natural disaster for that matter)!
Check out more pictures of our experience on Facebook!