We arrived in Christchurch not knowing what to expect. Its our first visit to the city so we have no real idea of what it used to be. All we know is that the CBD in particular was devastated by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and as a result some 70% of the buildings were destroyed or badly damaged and many are still being demolished.

As you walk through the city there are vast empty blocks that have become temporary carparks, and there are lots of cranes not just showing that demolition is underway, but also, thankfully, re-construction.

Despite the somewhat gloomy surrounds, there is a buzz in Christchurch. Obviously the residents aren't just sitting back and waiting for things to happen. The city is littered with fantastic sculptures and murals and this week alone there is a Busking Festival spread across a number of venues. People are out and about, and there are musicians, acrobats, comedians, markets and food vans wherever we go.

Yesterday we started with a walk through the beautiful Botanical Gardens with its multi-coloured flower beds, manicured lawns and enormous trees. We then spent time in the adjacent Canterbury Museum which, amongst other things, has wonderful Antarctic and bird life exhibitions (including some of the best taxidermy we've seen) as well as a reconstructed historic street complete with shops and businesses. And not a bad café either.

Today we took the 'Hassle Free' City Highlights tour on a 1960s red double-decker bus. The commentary was comprehensive and we learned a lot about the early history of the city and saw much of the more recent earthquake devastation. We then walked several city blocks stopping in at the Re-START Mall which has been created from shipping containers to house shops and cafes. And a walk through the Quake City exhibition gave us a really good idea of what the people have gone through. Time well spent.

The beautiful Botanical Gardens

Earthquake devastation

185 white chairs in memory of the 185 people who lost their lives in the 2011 earthquake

An example of the artwork that adorns the city's streets and walls

1960s red double-decker tour bus

At the Re START Mall

Inside Quake City

Demolition underway

The Christchurch Cathedral

The former GPO which is to be demolished

A whole city block awaiting demolition

The beautiful Avon River

A very unique sculpture!

Christchurch certainly isn't short on cafes or restaurants either. Last night we ate freshly cooked sate and stir-fry at the Friday night Cathedral Square Food Market, right next to the remains of the Christchurch Cathedral. And today we had coffee at Bunsen, an atmospheric café located within part of the reconstruction of the historic Christchurch Arts Centre which includes the Rutherford exhibition - one of the men who first split the atom. Tonight we dine at a restaurant recommended by the owner of the beautiful historic B&B in which we are staying.

Its been a great start to our holiday and we're looking forward to everything New Zealand has to offer!


  1. Awesome!!! What an amazing city... to have gone through so much and still be "alive and growing"... Great photos too.

  2. Great reading your blog, and look forward to reading more as you travel throughout the country,it will give us insight for our upcoming trip there. Maria & Bob

    1. Glad it might be useful for you both - lots to see here!

  3. Such a shame that such a beautiful building has the GPO is to be demolish. So sad.


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