Between The Earthquakes In Christchurch

John Winchurch In Christchurch, New Zealand

Waking this morning to the news of another earthquake in Christchurch, I searched the internet and was sad to see the loss of lives during this most recent quake. When John and I were in Christchurch two months ago there were still many signs of the previous earthquake in September. Our hotel was right around the corner from the cathedral that was hit so hard yesterday in the center of Christchurch. Pictures of the 110 year old ChristChurch cathedral are everywhere showing the collapsed spire and roof damage and I wanted to share with you what it looked like when we were there in December, only nine days before Christmas.

I loved the angels which I imagine were up for the Christmas season.

Also near our hotel was this older building which housed several shops where I enjoyed meeting the owners and making a few purchases. I hope the people I met survived the earthquake.

I searched for them online, but could not find an email link to one in particular. Vanessa Hardy has a wonderful shop in the green building above and I wish I could find a way to see if she and her shop, Tete-a-Tete made it safely through the quake. I had hoped to write about her earlier, but I have not had time to write about my New Zealand experience since we returned so it is only now that I am taking a minute to tell you about her. I bought one of my favorite new (to me) scarves in her shop and we shared our stories about how we met our lovely men. I stayed so long that I had a chance to meet her sweetie, Warren Chilton when he arrived just before closing time.

I also bought the book above in a bookstore on site, Fortuna Books. It feels like a strange coincidence that I happened to be reading that book last night when I went to sleep.

Judging by the time difference, I was reading about pioneer women in New Zealand when Christchurch was breaking up. I pulled it off the bookshelf late last night choosing it over the three or four books already on my bedside table. I had been reading a book of short stories by Tobis Wolf, but last night felt like reading this one instead.

Strange, but true … it feels kind of woo-woo to me now, but John would say it was just chance.

I sent an email off to the bookstore owner and hope to hear all is well in the building since I can’t find a way to check on Vanessa. If one of my New Zealand readers hears any news, I would appreciate knowing that Vanessa and those around her in the other shops in the Green building made it safely through the earthquake.

ChristChurch Cathedral - Christchurch, New Zealand

77 thoughts on “Between The Earthquakes In Christchurch

  1. thank you so much for sharing….it’s amazing how life takes twists….we think we have control and we are so powerless when it comes to the forces of nature…it’s so sad…thank you for sharing…prayers for the suffering

  2. We were there, years ago, too and have many happy memories. Thanks so much for posting this.

    And I don’t think the book thing was an accident. At all.

    Love to all involved…

  3. It seems that plate movements are in a period of high activity because that’s the only way to explain why these major earthquakes are increasing in frequency.Prayers to the people of NZ, and especially those in Christchurch. May you find strength in each other and reach out for help when you are feeling overwhelmed and needing comfort.

  4. These things are always so hard to make sense of, despite the science we all understand intellectually.
    Good thoughts to all…

  5. We’ve been glued to the TV all day. I live south of Chch and felt the shock. It was so hard to believe that you could physically feel that horrible moment hundreds of kilometres away and, while it meant nothing to us but our lamps swinging a bit, it meant the loss of life to so many others.

    The Cathedral was an icon of the city in such a wonderful way, and now its collapsed spire and roof just means it will represent this horrible day for so many years, and become a more tragic icon of the city.

  6. what a beautiful place…and people….it’s heartbreaking to see the photos when you realize that they have just been hit by the earthquake. I hope the nice lady at the bookstore, Vanessa, is safe too.

  7. Sad that the earthquakes are hitting like this… From what you’ve shown, Christchurch was beautiful. I don’t even want to see what it looks like now 😦 Thanks for sharing; they will be in my prayers, especially for everything to be restored.

  8. I was there 9 years ago and when I heard the news my heart broke. The people there could not be any nicer. It was right after 9/11 when I went and everything there just felt so peaceful. My thoughts are with everyone in Christchurch.

  9. Thank you for sharing your photos and your story. I lived in CHch a few years ago for three years. I left my heart there!

    It truely is an horrific event, quite hard to comprehend from so far away (now living in PA). Discovering your site helps, uniting us all who love Christchurch near and far. Thanks!

  10. I have a friend that lives nearby, and was glad to hear she is safe. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. Peace be with all those involved.

  11. So sad to hear about more devastation in the Southern Hemisphere, but I’m glad that such a beautiful record of these landmarks remains. Thank you for posting, and congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  12. Hey, nice tribute to wonderful Christchurch. I was there this time last year (before any of the quakes) and still can’t believe how much damage they have caused. Admittedly though, my memories are mostly of the little towns north and south of the city along the coast, but CC was still very beautiful!

  13. These are lovely pictures, and so poignant in view of what happened in Christchurch yesterday. A friend of mine visited Christchurch in November, and told me all about the angels in the cathedral – in fact we printed a small article in our village newsletter. She described them, but didn’t have any photographs, so it’s wonderful to see your magnificent pictures.
    I also have a friend who lives in Fendalton, Christchurch – they are safe, thank God, but terrified as they experience the after-shocks. Thank you for sharing your pictures and your thoughts. A lovely blog.

  14. Oh, I was so horrified to hear about the traumatic earthquake…so sorry for the people! I am also so sad to hear of the damage to the Church, what a shame, it was so beautiful, nice you have pictures…Love, love love the Angels you shared!

  15. Oh my God… How sad. I immediately went to look at the latest news and photos. Such devastation.

    What a beautiful little community it was. I hope your friends are safe.

    Very, very sad.

  16. Thank-you so much for your lovely words, and for posting pictures of the pre-earthquake cathedral. Napier, my home town, is a long way from Chirstchurch – yet we are all reeling too at the horrific destruction of our most ‘English’ city. Earthquakes are so much a part of our lives, that these events are always a bit – there-but-the-grace-of-God-go-we. I am just pleased that both earthquakes happened during the warm and dry – the loss of life and hardship would have been so much greater had they happened during winter.

  17. I’m encouraged to see your earnest concern for these people~it is rather heartbreaking to see how much can be gone within 1 minute. Life is short! Living it with purpose is so important. My heart goes out to them, thank you for posting this! ❤

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  19. wonderful post, thanks so much for sharing this with us. I would likely have never known what it looked like before as i know how it looks now. what a tradgedy for the country. i do hope the folks you met are safe and well and that you are able to make contact with them again.
    All the best

  20. I was horrified to see the devastation in New Zealand. I used to live in California and can totally sympathize with people living in an area that gets earthquakes. Beautiful pictures of the cathedral! I do hope all your friends are safe. If you get any word, you must post about it and let us know.

  21. The pictures are wonderful. The spire and the roof will be fixed, just like the people of Christchurch will come together. There will be a real sense of community and resilience to the awful disaster.
    My thoughts are with everyone there,

  22. I have an old navy pal who settled there years ago, I have been in touch and although some damage was done to some members of the family’s properties all are well,
    He sent me photos of the damage done during the last one in September. Your photos of the angels are fantastic.
    I only hope that something my be salvaged.
    Sadly the Los of life….A terrible thing to happen in such a wonderful place.

  23. Hi Josh Layson,

    Please don’t joke. It is a pretty sad day for us. To be honest we don’t really care if you have heard of Christchurch or not. But we do care that there are people trapped in buildings. And we do care that people are frightened out of their wits after suffering 2 big earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks in between.

    Anyway it isn’t the end of the city, it will be ok in a year or two, so you can come visit then and see how nice it is.


    P.S thanks Elizabeth for your kind words and lovely pictures

  24. These are dark days for New Zealand. We feel helpless and lost. Trying to stay out of the city is hard, we all want to rush in and do something but have been asked to hold back and keep things as orderly as possible, and keep out unless urgent.

    We are all filling our homes with those that need to leave and are forever grateful to all the people that are doing the same.

    We are willing all our strength to those that are able to be there, help search for people and rescue those still trapped.

  25. Just as I imagined.. a really pretty place, home to lovely people. I`m sending oceans of rainbow angelic light, emotional calm, comfort and strength to all people there.

  26. I was planning on touring New Zealand including Christchurch next January. It is so sad to see the devastation. My thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected by this earthquake.

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  28. Brothers and sisters of Christchurch and peoples of New Zealand.

    The earthquake that struck the city and your country, suppose an event that makes you all be patient. Perseverance will bring brought closer to God who is never silent for the best plan for us. Rejoice in hope, patient in distresses and continue to pray.
    I worry about an old family friend Linley Exley and hopefully they keeping well..

    Hans B. Pandjaitan

  29. A beautiful story, and lovely pics. I was born in Christchurch and currently live in Dunedin, NZ. I have many family and friends up there, along with a lot of cousins, etc.

    I have also written a few words regarding the quake – and what it means spiritually to us all.

    The first earthquake last September was a wake-up call, but this one not six months later makes me really wonder.

    For a city the size of Christchurch to receive TWO significant quakes (there have been thousands of aftershocks following the first one), I believe that we need to all sit up and take notice.

    The name of the city is significant: CHRIST, CHURCH.

    We cannot ignore Jesus CHRIST for much longer. Time is surely running out.

    My prayers go out to those who are coming into NZ from other countries to lend a hand. We thank you all. We need your prayers at this traumatic time. As I write, we have 75 confirmed deaths, and rising.

  30. It is pretty sad. I lived in NZ for 6 years, and was just there two months go during thanksgiving. Have plenty of pictures beside the cathedral also. I sincerely hope people there recover from there soon..

  31. I used to live in New Zealand, and if I hadn’t suddenly decide to withdraw from my postgraduate course, I would be there right now (not in Christchurch, though, but in Wellington).

    I have visited Christchurch several times and always loved it. It is such a beautiful city with such laidback people, and it broke my heart to see it reduced to rubble, like a warzone. The destruction just seems so at odds with my image of Christchurch as a peaceful, pretty city.

  32. I visited Christchurch Cathedral in Sept 1996 on my last day in NZ on a 17 day trip through the country before flying back home to the US. At the Church lobby was a bulletin board with a note inviting people to ask the Church’s prayer group to pray for one’s loved one. At the time, my father was ill and very weak from a stroke and not getting better – about to turn 97 in a few days. I’m not religous, but I decided to write a note asking for a prayer for my father Martin (in NJ, USA). Two weeks later, I visited my parents and my Mom told me “Pop’s gotten a little stronger in the last 2 weeks”. I never told her about the note asking for the prayer two weeks earlier. I noticed his improvement as well. I was so grateful and have since shared my story with a few others.

    So saddened to see the Church damaged and the injuries and casualties from the quake. My prayers now go to Christchurch and New Zealanders.

  33. I Know I can’t believe It, It’s Shocking.Over 70 deaths, My Thoughts are with the families of the missing and deceased.
    I do wish these after shocks will stop.

  34. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your photographs. It is nice to know that you care so much about people you have only enjoyed the company of so briefly. It is very touching and I was sad to read that there was damage to such a beautiful landmark. I hope you find that all is well with those you hope are safe.

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  36. Oh I wasn’t joking. I’m sorry if that’s how you viewed it. But I think on a positive matter, it’s a blessing in disguise. Let’s not be negative on such a tragedy, I’m just a positive person and sorry if it sounded like a joke.

  37. It’s been an appalling disaster for us here in New Zealand. Although as I write this the death toll has not yet been finalised, it’s certainly going to be one of the two most lethal quakes to strike us. The other, on 3 February 1931, was in Napier-Hastings and killed 258.

    I blogged about that a few weeks back on its 80th anniversary (here: )

    What struck me about that quake was its human aspect. And now it’s happened again. A deep tragedy for Christchurch, and a human calamity for Kiwis. It’s a small place, and everybody knows somebody in the disaster zone. Our thoughts are with them.

    Matthew Wright

  38. Thanks for posting those lovely pictures of the inside of the cathedral. I’ve only ever seen it from the outside and it’s a shame it’s gone now.
    I hope your friend is okay, best wishes.

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  40. What a tragedy to hit such a lovely place. I guess you can never tell what’s around the corner. That was a beautiful cathedral, it’s such a shame it was destroyed. The loss of human lives is, however, the biggest tragedy. On the news last night, one of the priests serving in that cathedral said that it was, indeed, a great blow to loose the building, but it’s the people burried under the rubble that he was worried about. The voice of true humanity. Praying for the kiwis at this difficult time.


  41. Oh, thank you for this. I visited New Zealand for the very first time two years’ ago with my only daughter. We decided to walk around Christchurst on a day shore excursion with Holland America cruise line. The botanical gardens are spectacular and cover a huge acerage. Massive trees and flowers we had never seen before lay before us like a garden of Eden. And the people of Christchurch…so very friendly. And what a clean city! We were away in Europe and then when back home working very hard to meet deadlines. I hadn’t the time to check out everything on the earthquake; and, especially the damage to the church. We toured the church but couldn’t climb up to the steeple as I had a bad hip. Thank you for sharing.

  42. Christchurch … was one of the most pleasant cities I have ever visited. Spending a week there was like going back in time. Such a liad-back environment … it seemed almost as if it would be immune to devastation such as this. Sadly, no.

  43. My poem for the people of Christchurch..
    My heart goes out to the people of Christchurch.
    I shed a tear for all those lost for who you now search.
    I felt a warmth from the people when I visited the city,
    But for those poor soles I now feel greaty pity.
    The earth showed it’s strength in a few moments of devastation,
    Kiwis also have great strength and will start new construction.
    My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy, and I’m sending strength to the search and rescue teams. Sad times 😦

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  47. Lovely bright and cheery pictures for somewhere that now looks so different. My parents are there for a few months but were not in christchurch when the earthquake struck unlike my cousins.

    Sending strength to those left behind and those having to start again.

  48. Hi,

    I’ve been visiting Vanessa and Warren’s shop for at least four years now, and I’ve been wondering about how whether they are safe and if their shop survived too. I hope they’re okay.

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