East Coast: Christchurch

This post: 1) Earthquake; 2) Restoration; 3) City of Art; 4) Botanic Garden; 5) Penguins; 6) Gondola

So much to do in Christchurch. The city is dynamic and bustling, and a good “base camp” with nearby day trips to picturesque Banks Peninsula and multiple vineyard/cellar doors. For an overnight or two, drive (or via train) west to Arthur’s Pass; north to Kaikōura and/or the spas in Hanmer Springs; west to Mt Cook.

1) Earthquake

In February, 2011, a 6.2 earthquake demolished 80% of the buildings within a 4 block square of city center and destroyed 10,000 homes

The remains of the collapsed tower and a gaping hole in the town center’s Anglican Cathedral is a sobering reminder. After nearly 10 years of exposure and pigeon poop, a printed tarp was fastened over the opening in December, 2020 to protect workers and deter the pigeons.

Embroiled in legal battles since 2011, the church’s synod voted (again) in August 2021 to fund restoration at a cost of $104 million.

For more about the earthquake, click either link:

The Chair Memorial preserves the memory of 185 deaths with chairs selected by family members.

2) Restoration

A Symbol of Moving On – The Transitional Cathedral

Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and constructed from 98 equally sized cardboard tubes and 8 steel shipping containers, this was the city’s first non commercial structure built after the earthquake.

Preservation / Restoration

Cutting-edge architecture alongside original buildings – some of NZ’s oldest, reflecting the city’s English heritage.

The lengths that Christchurch has gone to rebuild their city are astounding. The $290m NZD restoration of The Arts Centre te Matatiki Toi Oram began in 2012. The complex consists of 23 neo-gothic buildings, built in 1878.

3) Art and the City

Art became a central part of rebuilding the city.

In 2012, after the earthquake, the Bull/Piano “Chapman’s Homer” was exhibited at the city’s edge. Positioned between ruin and rebuild, it became a symbol of strength and resilience. It was acquired by the city’s public art gallery, Te Puna o Waiwhetū , when it reopened in 2015.

More than 50 years ago in Bluff, at the bottom of the South Island, Fred and Myrtle Flutey attached thousands of paua shells to the wall of their living room and collected a variety of kiwiana kitsch. The shell collection was loaned to the Canterbury Museum.

Street Art

Penguin Sculpture Trail Runs Across the City

4) Botanic Gardens / Outdoors

Loving the trees!

Video: Botanic Gardens

Video: Sound of Wetas (flightless crickets)

The Avon River intersects the city bringing a natural landscape to the urban environment.

5) Little Blue Penguins – Antarctica Center

Christchurch is the starting point for Antarctic explorers, scientists and support staff. Worth a visit is The International Antarctic Centre. See “Life at Scott Base” at the 4D Theatre and Penguin Encounter.


6) The Gondola Adventure Park

In December, 2020, a monolith appeared overnight at the top…we had to visit. Ride up…walk down. It’s long.

Related Posts

NZ Archive

Subscribe Here

6 thoughts on “East Coast: Christchurch

  1. I saved this to read when I had plenty of time to digest and enjoy. We, too, loved Christchurch pre-earthquake. I’m thrilled to see how things are sort of getting back to normal. The chair memorial is stunningly beautiful and poignant. I remember the little penguins. Everything about NZ is addictive. I’d love to go back tomorrow!

    1. Yes..addictive it is. You and I were both lucky to spend a good amount of time in the country.

  2. Beautiful blog. Beautiful city. I loved the penguin sculptures and the little blues. Thanks for taking me back there again post earthquake. xo

  3. Love the symbolism of the white chairs, yet all the color is a sign of rebirth! Let’s you know that life can change in an instant! Love the gnarly trees!! Hopeful and beautiful post!

  4. Random comments – The tarp over the gaping hole in the Cathedral improves the look, but hopefully they really will just get on with rebuilding this time. Second, thanks for linking to my blog post on Christchurch! I really enjoyed our visit back in 2020. Third, the penguin trail must have appeared sometime after that, I presume. It would be sad if they were there and we missed them – so colorful!

    1. Such a nice city. The penguins were installed and on display from December 2020 for 10 weeks. Then the big guys (50 of them) were to be auctioned off to raise money for Cholmondeley Children’s Centre. They were pretty addictive.

Comments are closed.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close