By: Blonde Two
Wellington is definitely a city that lives on the edge – you don’t have to move far away from the coast line before you start walking up a hill (this is good if you think about Tsunami risks). I have been staying in a house with the most spectacular of views across bush and sea – I can never choose which view is the best but they are both good for the soul. Like many of the houses around here, this house has stilts although only for the deck, the rest of it is fixed firmly (or so I have been telling myself) to the rock that protrudes into its basement. Most of Wellington’s homes are perched on hillsides in similar ways, some have stilts for the car park, some for the garage and some even for the house itself.
In order to get the occupants up to these carefully perched houses, there are a myriad of confusing windy roads, miles of steps and steep paths and sometimes even what I can only describe as outside lifts. It has been a secret wish of mine for a while now to have a play in one of these lifts but I have never managed to do so. Doing the weekly shop must be an all night event for some households. When I first arrive in Wellington, my vertigo plays me up and I can often only stand in the middle of the house – after a while, I find myself hanging off verandas and over edges to get good view photos.
Another edgy thing about Wellington is that the airport runway appears to be way too small. I have had successful landings and take-offs here in all weathers so it definitely is the right size but the fact that it sits with sea either end, on a piece of land that rose up after an earthquake is difficult to forget as you contemplate a trip.
The main motorway into Wellington is an edgy affair too. It runs right along an already damaged fault line where you can see clear evidence of ground rising on one side and falling away on another. To make driving even more of a lottery, there are raised sections of motorway as well. In fact, Wellington city itself is also intersected by fault line alley. The fault is the result of the tectonic (land) Australian Plate and the oceanic (sea) Pacific Plate meeting and having an argument about who should be on top (a common argument across the world). The oceanic Pacific plate always loses this argument as it is denser but gets its own back as it pushes the Australian one around a fair amount. This argument is advancing at 3.5 centimetres a year and generally occurs about 25 -30 kilometres below the city.
I revisited my position at the time of Friday’s earthquake yesterday – partly to finish my shopping and partly to lay an earthquake shaped ghost to rest. I spent far more time looking up than I had on the previous visit. I didn’t really like what I saw, there were tall old ornate buildings (the cafe I was in for example), even taller modern glassy ones, scaffolding, overhangs … you name it, I imagined it falling on me. Flying back to the farm tonight with thoughts for my family and everyone else who lives with the shadow of the Christchurch earthquake on their backs. You wouldn’t know it, they are a brave and determined lot and have my every admiration!