The Resilience of People

We’ve just arrived home from a two week holiday in New Zealand. It’s been a few years since we’ve been there, and this time we went back for a family wedding, and then took off in a camper van (Wilderness Motorhomes are the best!) for nine days.

We headed off to Hanmer Springs, and then after two nights enjoying the beauty there, biking, and the hot springs of course, we decided to go to Kaikoura. We took the inland road, which like many roads in NZ is up, down, around, and over there, but was magnificently scenic.

When we reached Kaikoura we decided to head north to Ohau Point to look at seals, completely forgetting that two years ago, during the earthquake, the road north had been completely blocked.

As we drove, and joined the long queues of vehicles waiting patiently at the multiple roadworks, we were astounded that the rebuilding had occurred so rapidly. This was a 7.8 quake. That’s a big quake, and on reading some of the information available, we learnt that it began at Culverden, and that 28 fault lines had eventually been involved, resulting in the South Island of NZ moving five metres closer to the North Island.

I took photos as we drove, which demonstrate some of the slips as they are now two years later, and you can see (not particularly well, sadly) that the road is now higher than it used to be. In some areas, the sea bed raised itself two metres higher, and is now out of the water.

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The photo above actually shows seals, but if you look carefully, you can see some of the lighter rocks, which were once below water level. There are chunks of coastline where the rocks are white, and were clearly below water previously.

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Waiting in line to go into a new tunnel.

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The new tunnel.

Another new tunnel with one of New Zealand’s signature ‘surprise!’ bends.

A multitude of slips, landslides and construction work. I was taking all of these out of the vehicle window, so some aren’t very good, but there were no other options.

More than anything, we were impressed with the bounce back demonstrated by the New Zealanders. They abseiled off the top of some of the slips in order to move debris and to place stabilising metalwork in some of the slopes. They airlifted in huge containers to hold the slopes back, and they built a huge bridge in record time.

What initially looked like the end of the coastal road and railway has not been. The new road is magnificent. Clearly the engineering is amazing, and the hard work required to make this happen has been nothing short of astounding.

When you consider that in 2010 Christchurch had been devastated by another earthquake, the ability of the people to be resilient, and simply continue on with their lives despite the difficulty and hardship, has been a demonstration of how strong the New Zealand national character is.

Once again, we see people triumphing over hardship, destruction and sadness. It’s nice to see such a demonstration of hope in a too often troubled world.

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