Visit Christchurch, New Zealand: Five Years After The Quakes

Visit Christchurch, New Zealand: Five Years After The Quakes
| 4 min read

Two devastating earthquakes rocked the city back in 2010 and 2011. These quakes threatened to destroy more than its buildings. The people of this great city were witnesses to massive destruction and more than 10,000 aftershocks.

Many went looking for a new place to call home far from this quivering city in New Zealand’s Canterbury region. Those who chose to stay are re-designing this place for the future by building earthquake-resistant buildings and changing some of the Old-English look of Christchurch.

These hardy folk who have stayed on welcome visitors to this grand city on the south island. Tourists that come still have dozens of choice attractions, wineries, restaurants, and activities to choose from, and at times see no evidence of earthquake damage.

Relax at a winery

Waipara  Hills winery

In the Waipara wine region just forty minutes north of Christchurch, you can sample excellent rieslings, sauvignon blanc, and other wines in both high end and cosy vineyard tasting rooms. Waipara Hills is a must-see winery and if you are lucky, there might be a concert during your visit. The British reggae band UB40 is scheduled to play January 16, 2016 on the grounds of the winery.

Consider packing a picnic lunch and linger on the grounds of a Waipara winery for a memorable meal. If you take a tour, most operators pick you up at your hotel in Christchurch and give you a few options of how long of a tour you want. Tasting fees are covered by the tour operator and for a fee can include lunch at a winery.

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Rediscover a different form of art

visit christchurch, new zealand: five years after the quakes | rediscover a different form of art

Previously the city of old English style stone buildings and glorious parks, some of the old stone buildings have been destroyed during the earthquakes. The famous Christchurch Art Centre is currently the largest historical building restoration in the world! Most who have visited would remember this former University of Canterbury building as the center of art shopping in New Zealand. There were art shops of every description housed in this grand old building constructed in 1873.

Why not drop by to check out the progress of the rebuild and restore efforts to appreciate a different form of art? The Clock Tower and Great Hall is believed to be ready for opening in early 2016 so do drop by for some good coffee.

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Immerse in nature at the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park

visit christchurch, new zealand: five years after the quakes | immerse in nature at the botanic gardens and hagley park

Some parts of the city show no visible earthquake damage. Immerse in nature as you walk around the famous Botanic Gardens (free admission) along the Avon River. Sip a cup of coffee at the Boatshed Café on the banks of the Avon River or lounge in the shade of giant trees growing throughout the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park on warm days.

The collection of heritage trees in Christchurch is one of the best in the world. Although about thirty heritage trees either fell or died from extensive root damage, the gardens are still beautiful and definitely should not be missed as so many of the other great trees survived.

The gardens still have much to see like the comical Fantail bird who entertained me by flitting about flashing its tail feathers my way in the native New Zealand Garden. These funny little birds will look right at you and hop around flashing their tail in your direction putting on an entertaining show.

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Be awed by the creativity and innovations of Christchurch and her people

Cargo containers shoring up an old church

Construction cranes can be seen in several locations throughout the city. Some would be repairing existing buildings while others are constructing new ones to replace many office buildings, and hotels lost. The creativity employed to rebuild is as tenacious and brilliant.

There is the Cardboard Cathedral, built as a temporary church to serve until a permanent one takes its place. This could last as long as the Eiffel Tower in Paris? You will be impressed with the use of cargo containers for temporary shops and other facilities in the Restart Shopping Mall, featuring temporary fashion, grocery, and coffee shops until permanent ones can be built.

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Loads of lodging options

visit christchurch, new zealand: five years after the quakes | loads of lodging options

Don’t worry about lodging choices. You have over 140 to choose from with backpacker hostels, under 20 NZD / 13 USD to luxury choices at The George charging over 500 NZD / 340 USD. Try a New Zealand motor lodge like the Top Ten Christchurch on 39 Meadow St. in the Papanui area. Here you can choose from many options like, low cost lodge rooms with shared baths, or a clean and well equipped motel room or cottage for under 110 NZD / 75 USD.

You can choose a motel room suite option with the bedroom separate from the kitchen and living room if you want lots of room for cooking. This location is convenient to the bus stop taking you into the city center and is also walking distance to the Northlands Mall. Next to the mall is a Pak’nSave grocery store with most everything you could need to cook in your room or the Top Ten’s communal kitchen. The Top Ten staff can advise and book many tourist activities in the area making it easy on visitor’s deciding where to go and what to do.

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Observe a moment of silence

Some of the white chairs standing in memory of those lost in the quake

The positive results of rebuilding can be seen everywhere in the city; from the new Cardboard Cathedral to the newly re-opened Theater Royale and earthquake remembrance art installation such as the 185 Chairs. These white chairs stand as a memorial to the 185 people who lost their lives in the natural disaster. Paying tribute to the uniqueness of each represented person, come visit and observe a moment of silence.

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Life goes on, so does the famous Christchurch Tramway

visit christchurch, new zealand: five years after the quakes | life goes on, so does the famous christchurch tramway

The famous Christchurch Tramway trolley still rides the rails through the heart of the city. Try a dinner ride on this historic trolley at night for a real treat, or ride the daytime tram for a leisurely view of the city center. The dinner tram departs at 7pm and glides slowly around and about the city for two and a half hours. Be sure to reserve ahead of time as they sell out often.

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Visit Christchurch for a good time and good cause

As you bask in the glow of a brilliant sunset after another day of touring, you will agree Christchurch is a must-visit city. Rebuilding efforts are in progress, but this old English themed city still has plenty to offer to visitors. Having seen quake ravaged cities rebuilt from Anchorage, Alaska to Kobe, Japan Christchurch is destined to take its place like those shining examples of rebirth. Please consider visiting to show your support. It’s for a good time and good cause.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Kurt Jacobson is a Baltimore-based freelance travel writer who is a former chef traveling the world in search of great food, interesting people, fine wine, nature, fishing, and skiing. New Zealand,...Read more

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