Once known as the most English city of New Zealand with its manicured gardens, quaint trams, stately houses and a vast central park – Christchurch has undergone dramatic transformation after being devasted by the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
Yet in the wake of New Zealand’s second-worst natural disaster, creativity and innovation have sprung up new life from the rubble. In place of the gaping holes and flattened zones, where offices and shops once sat, you now find interactive artworks and pop-up cafes, bars and restaurants. The devastated downtown has transformed into an outdoor boutique shopping mall made from shipping crates. The iconic crumbling cathedral has been temporarily replaced by a much-loved Cardboard Cathedral and an enormous new playground, designed with the help of local children, is a family favourite in the CBD. The resilience and ingenuity of this community that lost 185 of its residents is impossible to miss and a true testament to its people.
The city remains the South Island’s largest, from the building zone that is the central city, to the elegant neighbourhoods of Fendalton and Cashmere with delicatessen cafes and boutique stores, the long sandy coastline to the east and over the port hills to the bohemian port settlement of Lyttleton.
Flanked by impressive mountain ranges on one side and the South Pacific Ocean on the other, there are endless activities awaiting adventure seekers beyond the city centre. Hike, cycle, kayak and ski, or take to the numerous rivers of the Canterbury region for fly-fishing, jet boating and river rafting.
Curious travellers will relish all the new eclectic hubs to discover in a city and region that is full of surprises, friendly locals and an inspirational community spirit.
When to go
A year-round destination, Christchurch offers long sunny days and beach escapes in summer. In spring the city blooms with daffodils and cherry blossom trees - a beautiful time to visit. Fall is picturesque with the changing colours of the trees and in winter the region is crisp with the surrounding mountains covered in snow.
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