From watching the “Lord of the Rings” movies you’d believe that New Zealand is a paradise. Except for the orcs and evil wizards, but leaving aside fictional characters it’s a very beautiful place. But over the last 10 years, NZs second-largest city has been hammered by a series of earthquakes that left entire neighborhoods ruined, abandoned, and returning to nature.
This NZ-based web site, Stuff, has a rundown on what happened, and how a series of cute suburbs became red zones.
What does tom-mcgee.com have to offer? One little Google Maps trick that makes it explicit for you, dear reader, to see the transformation. As you recall, Google Street View is updated as their vehicles sooner or later find their way to a street. The visits might be years apart. You’ve probably seen seasons change abruptly when you cross a highway, or a blue house suddenly painted yellow. Street View can work as a time machine.
So try this. Start at 129 Kingston Street, Christchurch, NZ.
It’s the kind of suburb you’re familiar with. Spin your figure around so you’re facing south, and proceed towards to next intersection just one click.
The difference is that picture #2 is from August 2015, and picture #1 is from August 2012. The earlier street grid, should you follow it, already shows signs of abandonment.
Go ahead, take the right turn onto Tasman Place.
Or turn around to go back, and like a bad dream you see this:
If you’re the kind of person who ignores the orange sign, you can go one more click north. And you’re back again.
Randomly clicking around, I found this block. Preserved in a pre-disaster Google photo from 2007, gardens are tended, roofs are repaired, nice cars and a boat line the street leading down to the riverfront.
Thanks to Kottke for pointing to the article.