More than a decade on from the devastating earthquake aftershock that claimed many lives and some 80 percent of the CBD, a vibrant new Christchurch has emerged.
Gleaming retail outlets, sophisticated accommodation options, popping street art, and fabulous restaurants and cafes are all part of the reconstructed urban landscape. However, you’ll also find plenty of links with the past and a concerted upholding of the city’s best loved traditions.
Dissected from east to west by the picturesque Avon River, Christchurch remains an integral part of any visit to New Zealand’s South Island and is a great spot to base yourself to see some of the region’s most spectacular natural landscapes.
This Christchurch city guide is packed with ideas for things to see and do. Enjoy your visit.
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Christchurch for history lovers
Christchurch was founded in the 1850s by the Canterbury Pilgrims from England.
Canterbury Museum charts the history of the city and wider Canterbury region: from the arrival of the first inhabitants — the Tangata Whenua — some 800 years ago, right through to events of the present day. There are galleries dedicated to a wide range of topics, including the earliest interactions between the Māori and European settlers, the extinction of the Moa bird, and the exploration of Antarctica by New Zealanders.
While public tram services ended in Christchurch back in 1923, a city tour with Christchurch Attractions on a meticulously restored heritage tramcar is a fun way to step back in time. Drivers provide commentary on the city’s history and architecture, and are a wealth of knowledge on where to eat and what’s on around town.
As you explore Christchurch you’ll likely hear residents talking about life before and after the series of earthquakes that changed the face of their home forever. Quake City is a moving exhibition by Canterbury Museum that documents the tragic events of 2010 and 2011, the aftermath, and the rebuild process. You may also want to visit the emotive Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial by the Avon River and pay your respects to the 185 people who lost their lives.