Australia could not have given me a better first impression when I arrived. Not only was the country amazing, but I even loved the “uni” (college) orientation! With a free beer in my cupholder, I was immediately captivated by projector screen. An “extreme adventures” spring break trip to New Zealand was being advertised. I was in baby!

When the day finally came for me to meet the group that I would share life-changing experiences with, I was shaking with excitement. I quickly found out that our meeting destination, Christchurch, had also been experiencing the shakes.

 2011 Earthquake Claims Christchurch City Center

The year of our trip, Christchurch suffered a devastating earthquake. Approximately 200 people lost their lives. Those fortunate enough to have survived were left with shattered memories of what their town used to look like. Christchurch crumbled during the natural disaster.  It almost needed to close down.

We were relocated upon arrival to Point Break Backpackers hostel in the quaint coastal town of New Brighton.  As our airport shuttle drove us past the hub where we had intended to stay, fences jetted out from the perimeter. The fences were there to block off the crumbled brick that once lay as Christchurch’s foundation. Over 1,000 earthquakes shook Christchurch in 2011.


After Quakes Threaten Return

There were four “after shakes” the day before our arrival and it was likely that there would be more during my stay. I decided not to worry, however, because I was already there.


Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it never gets you anywhere.

new zealand earthquake

The situation was upsetting without a doubt. One of the most important lessons I have learned on this journey is to respond with intention, instead of act with emotion. When the situation became overwhelming, I took a deep breath. By clearing my mind and allowing mental chaos to settle, I was better able to respond to the situation with a level head. In this circumstance, the travel company organizing the trip set us up with appropriate accommodations. We were relocated to a safe spot and would depart earlier than planned to avoid risk.

earthquake street debris

A Shaky Slumber

Rattled by the commotion, we were exhausted. Soon after checking into the hostel, we passed out in our bunk.  It was time to rest. Hopefully, Mother Nature would join me in doing so. There was one after-quake that night. I awoke to what sounded like a heavy train speeding over a cardboard ceiling inches above where I had laid my head. As soon as I realized what was happening, the commotion had passed, a new journal entry was written, and I was back to sleep.

I awoke to the loud roar of an after-quake in the middle of the night.  It sounded like a freight train was speeding overhead. Frazzled, it took me a moment to realize what was happening. As quickly as I put together that it was an after-quake, it had passed.

New Zealand Earthquake

“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” – Eleanor Roosevelt