Tourists take in 'grim, sad' Christchurch sights

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 11/11/2012

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Tourists are curious to explore Christchurch's unique earthquake-ravaged cityscape, although they compare what they see to the Blitz and "a war zone".

Invercargill resident Bill Snell was a policeman in Christchurch in the 1950s and a schoolboy during the Blitz in London. He was visiting Christchurch for the first time since the quakes with his wife Betty Snell.

"It reminds me of the Blitz," he said.

"This is the first time we have been back into the city centre. It reminds me of the houses that had been hit and blasted by bombs in the Blitz. Every street in our neighbourhood had two or three bombed houses. It still looks pretty grim here." Snell was keen to take photographs of the partially demolished Farmers car park building on Gloucester St.

Kate Stanova, of the Czech Republic, is travelling and working in New Zealand for a year. She spent three days in Christchurch.

"It is very sad here," she said.

"It does not feel very nice here now. The city needs some years before it is a nice place again. You can't really enjoy it at the moment because it is not a nice place." Chicago resident Julian Good was also walking the city centre with his camera. Good moved out of Christchurch in 2000 and had not been to the city for five years.

"It is strange because you look at parts of the city and it has not changed, but then you look in another direction and you can see the heart of the city has been ripped out," he said.

"It is almost like a war zone. It is sad. I have lots of memories of places that have now gone. I am here out of curiosity more than anything. I wanted to see it. It is interesting, but in a sad way."

James Newbould, who punts tourists down the Avon River, said Australians were keen to see earthquake damage.

"A lot of people want to see what's happening. The Australians just want to see the destruction, while locals want to see what has changed," he said. "They all say it is a lot worse than what they saw on the news."

Christchurch travel consultant Graham Palmer said tourists were keen to see the Christ Church Cathedral. "People want to see the city centre and take tours and do things. They don't all want to look at the damage. A lot of people want to see the cathedral," he said.

"If they want to see the damage, we send them down Gloucester St. That gives them a very good idea of what the city has been through."

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