A devastating  6.3 magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand’s bustling city, Christchurch, on February 22nd 2011. News coverage dominated all Australian television and the reports drove in how devastating the damage was: 300 were reported missing and the damage is estimated to be between $10 – $12 billion. Rescue workers worked hard to reach buried survivors and text messages from the trapped were making it through to loved ones, giving relief of their survival but continuing panic due to aftershocks still being a threat to their rescue.

I was in the state of Victoria (Australia), and the footage of the iconic Christchurch cathedral with its ruined spire really drove home the devastation, as this time last year my friend and i passed through Christhurch in our travels of New Zealand and had sat outside that cathedral watching performers from the Buskers Festival 2010. The majestic spire had been part of the background of our sightseeing, and we had ran havoc on the same streets that are now covered in rubble and dust and flooding.

Australia is reeling from the damage of its neighbouring country, and i can’t believe how many people i know in Australia have been affected! Facebook updates from friends who have family in New Zealand, or friends traveling the country is scary and i’m just in disbelief. A childhood friend struggled to contact her family who live in the affected city, and after dealing with Brisbane’s bad flooding she is now considering returning home to help deal with the aftermath. Another friend also struggled an entire 24hours to reach her brother who had just arrived in Christchurch, and his two young children. Thankfully he only has bruises from being thrown against a building during the shakes. Shaken but alright… A friend who i traveled with in Indonesia had left the hostel behind the cathedral 6 hours before the quake struck.

New Zealand doesn’t have particularly great memories for me, as it definitely had my greatest lows of my trip, but i guess you need the lows to appreciate the highs. And sky-diving in Taupo at 15,000 feet is about as high as i could get! Even though my memories aren’t mind-blowing (i was on strict budget, expensive adrenaline activities were abundant and there was a major culture shock for me after Asia… it was just too bloody cold and expensive.), it would be unfair to write it off completely as a destination. Everyone has their favoured areas of the world to travel in! Yes, the scenery was stunning and the activities were endless, but just don’t tour the islands on a tour bus unless it’s your first time traveling alone… or you like school trips. If you are an experienced traveller then this method of seeing New Zealand seems patronising and controlled. Not what you want your adventures to feel like!

However, here are my personal highlights in photo form. Christchurch was one of my top N.Z. cities with rapping Americans and stoned Northern England lads to entertain me. Get well soon, Christchurch…

Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane