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Imagine this: It’s one o’clock in the morning and there’s a distinct lack of sleep to be felt as we step off the plane from Australia into the black of night. Four frazzled family members feeling a bit odd.

Blissfully, our Airbnb apartment for the night was like a cocoon of cosiness; it wrapped us into soft and luxiourious-feeling bedding, so we slept (un!)like babies. Come morning, we were back in the game and ready to explore the regenerating city of Christchurch.

Following it’s devastating 2011 earthquake, the city is still in recovery.  80% of the city collapsed or had to be demolished post-disaster, and 185 people sadly lost their lives. It’s hard to understand the serious impact this had, but walking around allows you to appreciate what the residents have come through and the resilience they have shown.

In the immediate aftermath, they creatively built gap-filler spaces and an area called ‘container city’: a makeshift shopping area made from shipping containers and recycled materials to keep the city centre alive. It was intended to be in situ for 6 months, but remained for a staggering 6 years, closing just this year.

With only limited parts re-built (such as the shiny new shopping complex, The Crossing), many spaces, which are really vast concrete flats like car parks watched over by colourful murals, are still waiting patiently to feel new life and reconnect the current disjointed feel.

There are creative corners and cute places to be found, you just need to navigate the building work.

To see the cathedral being held up like an old lady with her Zimmer frame is really sad.

It’s shocking to see this beautiful city still in transition all these years later. It sounds as though a mix of politics and insurance wrangles are the cause, and we hope for the sake of the people, who are beginning to rebuild their lives, that these administrative nightmares can be speeded up.

We were keen to understand more about the country’s earthquakes and the affect they have, so a visit to Christchurch’s interactive Quake City was a must.

Have I mentioned the weather yet? Boy was it cold! With only our shorts, tshirts and thongs/jangles/flip flops after months in the warmth of SE Asia and Oz, we completed a tour of Christchurch’s op shops to stock up on unpredictable weather-ware!! This is a bonus of travel, we get to reuse where possible, saving lots of dosh! Christchurch is winning in op shop bargains so far; we found a shop selling 5 items for $5 (50p a piece)!!

We’re kitted up and ready to explore this immense country!