Oksana’s trip to New Zealand was filled with natural wonders, but the most memorable of her travel experiences was her time in Christchurch where she experienced the devastation of the February 2011 earthquakes.


 

On my very first visit to New Zealand I discovered my love and passion for the untouched and breathtaking beauty of this country. In my previous job as a Travel Agent I participated in an industry competition where I won a campervan voucher for 5 days. I also have a friend who lives in New Zealand so I thought I would go visit my friend, see the country and use my voucher at the same time! What could be better?!

We had the campervan for five days and in such a short time we saw so many beautiful places and people including juicy green endless wineries, majestic mountains, waterfalls, snowy mountains, white beaches and black sand volcanic beaches. The ocean and mountains were such an amazing combination. I’m a well travelled person but I don’t think I’ve ever seen something that made such a huge impression on me.

And at the end of our journey we arrived in Christchurch, which was a special story to tell. A big earthquake had hit Christchurch on 22 February 2011 and claimed many lives. The whole CBD was closed and restoration and construction works were still ongoing. All of the buildings around the CBD had yellow stickers with no access due to danger. As we walked past, we could see through the windows of some offices and cafes. They had been untouched since the date of the earthquake - chairs and coffee cups were on the ground, office furniture turned upside down, shacked and broken when the earthquake happened. We could still see the newspapers through the window dated 22 February 2011.

The cracked roads and destroyed buildings all indicated what had happened at this sad event but at the same time this small pretty town had such a welcoming atmosphere with beautiful green parks and an amazing city coastal drive. The people were so friendly and helpful, one older woman from the street markets said to us “Oh girls don’t go back to Australia! Come and live in Christchurch and help us to rebuild our city again!”. It was so sweet it made me smile the whole way back to our campervan.

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