City Guide: Christchurch
Visiting Christchurch was somewhat weird and sad at the same time, as we could still see the results of the destructive force of the earthquake in 2011. Although most sights, especially the beautiful cathedral have been destroyed, you can still see why this used to be one of New Zealand’s most beautiful cities. Especially the green initiative put forward by its citizens and the beautiful botanical garden pleasantly surprised us.
After touring around the north island, we flew over to Christchurch from Wellington in the early morning hours. It took us about thirty minutes with the bus to reach the city centre where our hotel was located. As we continued our journey the next day, we decided to directly start exploring the city.
Our starting point was the cathedral square as this is were the Novotel is located. Most parts of it are still covered behind construction sites and it is unclear whether the city will be able to rebuild the cathedral.
The cathedral was build between 1864 and 1904 in the city centre of Christchurch and belongs to the Anglican Church. Ever since the cathedral has been damaged by earthquakes, but experienced severed damage during the Christchurch earthquake in Feburary of 2011.
Due to the severity of the damage to the structure of the church, the Anglican Church planned to demolish it in order to build a new cathedral. This proposal, however, was opposed by many groups, and has led to a number of negotitations. The Anglican Church has as a result of the latest negotiation report agreed to reconsider the reinstatement of the cathedral.
New Regent Street and Cable Car in Christchurch
New Regent Street was first opened in 1932 and consists of a number of buildings in a Spanish mission style. The colourful houses host a number of shops and cafes.
Situated in a pedestrian area, they have similarity to a small outdoor shopping mall, but with a lot more charm than a usual high street. This part of the city was also severely hit by the earthquake, but was soon reopened in April 2013.
The same year the historic tram also started running again.
Christchurch Botanic Gardens
The botanical garden is a real highlight in Christchurch as you can forget about the earthquake for once and just enter a green and peaceful oasis.
It was originally founded in 1863 to commemorate the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Christchurch Botanic Gardens cover quite a substantive area in the city (approximately 21 hectares).
The Avon River also runs through the botanical gardens and punting is offered there.
Christchurch Green Initiative
As part of the Great Place To Be campaign initiated by Christchurch citizen, volunteers come together to clean up the city and start green initiative programmes such as setting up small herbal gardens.
Christchurch Re:START City Mall and Quake City
Re:START is a temporary mall set up in the aftermath of the earthquake. It consists of several shipping containers and was originally aimed to deal with the lack of business space due to the many destroyed buildings.
Due to its success and popularity, however, it continues to be open. Alongside you can also find the Quake City, a museum that teaches and informs about the Canterbury earthquakes.
Christchurch – Bridge of Rememberance
The Bridge of Rememberance is an important war memorial dedicated to those who died in World War One and is further a memorial for World War Two and other subsequent conflicts.
It was recently reopened on Anzac Day after a NZ$6.7 investment in repairs.
Christchurch Cardboard Cathedral
The Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch was set up as a provisional Anglican Cathedral as the Christchurch Cathedral became unusuable after the earthquake. This is the only cathedral worldwide made partly from cardboard.
The design of the church was developed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. He is known for the quick and relatively cheap construction of buildings in disaster zones.
Overall impression of Christchurch
Visiting Christchurch left us with mixed feelings. While it was incredibly sad to see the dozens of empty houses and closed off areas, it was great to see the investment being made to rebuild the city. The new houses look very modern and sophisticated. We’d hope that the city doesn’t get hit by another earthquake like this.