Introducing Christchurch, New Zealand’s newest city
No other city is re-emerging and developing as fast as Christchurch, New Zealand. Points of interest include new and renewed cultural and historical attractions.
Known as New Zealand’s ‘Garden City’ Christchurch is an elegant mix of both the modern and historic. Steadily recovering from the 2010/2011 earthquakes that razed its centre and outlying suburbs, Christchurch is once more a vibrant urban destination - bouncing back with innovative new attractions and re-invigorated restaurants and bars.
A hub of creativity
The decimation of the central city has seen the need for an almost complete CBD rebuild. A need that prompted a flood of creativity.
Just visit the Re:Start mall on Cashel Street, created entirely from used shipping containers, to see a stunning mix of kiwi ingenuity and functional design. The Mall is a colourful home to over 50 retailers and includes cafes, restaurants, market stalls, street performers and has an edgy metropolitan feel. A unique point of interest for anyone visiting Christchurch, Re:Start is a must see while you are here.
How about a Cardboard 'Transitional' Cathedral for a place to worship? The only one of its kind in the world, the cardboard cathedral was designed by Shigeru Ban as a temporary replacement for the city’s Anglican original. Featuring an interesting triangular A-frame profile, the building is constructed almost entirely from large cardboard tubes. These provide structural support and surround a prominent stained glass window decorated with images from its counterpart. An unique landmark in the heart of the city, those with an eye for contemporary design will delight in this one-of-a-kind attraction.
A further creative consequence of the need to get around lack of central city buildings is the abundance of pop-up shops and markets. The city is becoming known for it’s eclectic hipster vibe, and many warehouses and abandoned lots have become a home to budding artisans hawking their wares. Elsewhere you might see more containers being used as street corner restaurants or hip Japanese noodle bars.
The ‘Garden City’
Renowned for its wide tree lined avenues, large expansive parks and botanical gardens, Christchurch has a definite ‘english’ feel. Hagley Park - the city's largest - occupies over 160 hectares. A place for public recreation and enjoyment, the Avon River cuts through the middle, while historic oak, beech and elm trees ring the perimeter.
On the fringes of the park is the Christchurch Botanic gardens - a living museum, transformed in every season. Home to an impressive array of native and exotic plants, the gardens are a beautiful botanical showcase and a must-see destination. Taking a caterpillar tour complete with audio commentary is recommended.
An adventure destination
Beyond its genteel interior, Christchurch has a multitude of adventure activities. The International Antarctic Centre, located near the airport is well worth a visit. From here, the bases in Antarctica are replenished and there are unique displays of what life is like in the challenging Antarctic environment - including a windchill simulator and a little blue penguin enclosure.
Be sure to see Akaroa, a quaint french settlement tucked into Banks Peninsula with a whimsical charm and holiday feel. Akaroa is also known as a place to see the rare Hector's Dolphins.
For spectacular views, take the Christchurch Gondola to the top of the Port Hills or a hot air balloon above the iconic Canterbury Plains. Go mountain biking in Bottle Lake Forest or Wine tasting in the Waipara Valley. Visit the Hanmer Springs hot pools for a relaxing mineral soak or go on ‘safari’ at Orana Wildlife Park.
Gateway to the South, Christchurch is the main central south island service centre and a starting point to many southern holidays. Drive an hour in any direction to ski, mountain bike, wine taste, whale-watch, bungy jump or play golf. The TranzAlpine train - one of the world's greatest train journeys - leaves from here, as does the renowned Coastal Pacific.