Christchurch New Zealand, the base of tourism on the South Island of New Zealand and the country’s third-largest city, experienced a series of earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. In the time that has passed, Christchurch’s leaders, contractors, business owners and others have been working to restore the city and its infrastructure. With many of the hotels and attractions open again, the community known as the Garden City is ready—and more than willing—to welcome visitors.
When the British arrived at the beginning of the 18th century, they were sent by the Canterbury Association and decided on the name of Christchurch before they arrived, likely inspired by the Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral. Today, the Canterbury name lives on, the name of the region where Christchurch is located. Home to half a million people, Canterbury is the largest region in New Zealand, covering nearly 45,000 square kilometers. Along with its rivers and championship Rugby team, the Canterbury Region is home to the country’s premier wine regions. Most of the Canterbury Region wineries specialize in white wines, especially Riesling, Chardonnay, and the up-and-coming Gewürztraminer. The wineries open for tastings and tours are linked along the Canterbury wine trails, along with restaurants and other culinary stops.
The good food and the good wine is just the beginning of what attracts people to Christchurch. Many of the attractions in the city center were destroyed in the earthquakes, including the restaurants, hotels, and the city’s main cathedral and Christchurch Arts Centre. This area, dubbed the red zone, is re-opening in stages. While completion is expected soon, in the meantime, visitors can take bus tours to see what’s going on.
Away from the red zone, the list of things to do is long—and different from any other city. The one-of-a-kind International Antarctic Centre showcases Christchurch’s role as the gateway to the icy continent. Its collection of penguins is always a big hit, especially at feeding time. Animal lovers will also appreciate whale-watching tours. Giant sperm whales make their home year-round in the waters off Christchurch, while other types of whales, along with dolphins and seals, appear at various times of the year. While you’re in the Garden City, it would make sense to stop by the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, a delight in any season. A few of the buildings are still closed after the earthquakes, but much of the gardens are accessible for strolling. A new visitor center is opening during the celebration of the gardens’ 150th anniversary.
Christchurch New Zealand Earthquake
While scientists are now seeing a slowdown in seismic activity, things were different in 2010 and 2011. Several earthquakes struck the South Island in 2010 and 2011. The first big quake to shake the Garden City happened in Sept. 2010, measuring a hearty 7.1 on the Richter scale. The quake, centered west of the city, brought a lot of damage, although no one killed. The one six months later brought more destruction. On February 22, 2011, a 6.3-magnitude quake killed 185 people, damaging the infrastructure already made weak by the earlier earthquakes. Together with the aftershocks in June 2011, the city experienced tens of billions of dollars of damage that included the destruction of the city's beautiful cathedral. Immediately, Christchurch’s citizens and the global community came together to start the process of rebuilding, restoring the hotels, attractions, homes, and other vital places in the city and its suburbs. Even more acres were set aside for green spaces, helping Christchurch to live up to its nickname as the Garden City.
Christchurch Hotels & Canterbury Lodging
The earthquakes heavily damaged the Christchurch hotels in the central business district. Many of them were destroyed, but some are being rebuilt and a few are open again. So, it’s important to have an up-to-date list of Christchurch hotels when you’re deciding where to stay. You’ll still have a good mix of choices for overnight accommodations to suit your budget and style, everything from luxury hotels to budget accommodations, along with bed-and-breakfast inns, farm stays and country lodges.