This was the first time I've been there for about seven years, long before the devastating earthquake.
My family came from the South Island and I spent many school holidays in and around Christchurch so have fond memories of the cathedral city with its parochial rugby supporters, punting on the Avon river, its crisp, clear winter days and where everyone used bicycles for all sorts of reasons.
I lived in Christchurch for 5 years in the mid to late 1990's and thoroughly enjoyed my stay there. We had a wonderful house with a very large garden which made weekends a pure pleasure even with having to mow so much lawn.
I loved Christchurch with its old stone buildings, parks and a feeling of tranquillity so it was a shock seeing it in its current state of disarray.
Sure I'd seen all the images on TV and in newspapers post the two earthquakes, but its not until you see things first hand that you realise how bad things are. If I'd seen it just after the quakes maybe it wouldn't have seemed so bad. Fallen masonry and broken things would look like they just needed to be picked up and replaced or fixed.
Now, nearly four years later, after all of the procrastination, lies, ineptitude and disagreement, what's left is just sad.
The injuries to the city haven't been cured. A lot of them are still weeping sores and at best, scabs. There are vacant lots where buildings once stood. There are new buildings that have replaced those that fell down or were condemned and pulled down. There are, unfortunately those still in limbo.
My overall impression was of a city that has lost its core being, its soul.