When people think of Christchurch they immediately think of Earthquakes – or more specifically the 7.1 on the Richter Scale Earthquake that occurred in September 2010, and the one 6.3 magnitude Earthquake that occurred on the 22nd February 2011 and the aftershocks that followed.
The 2010 Earthquake certainly shook the city, but it was the 2011 Earthquake that destroyed around 80% of the city centre’s building including Christchurch Cathedral and a 6 storey building that housed the TV station. Some 1300 building in the city were destroyed, and 185 people were killed in the quake.
Today the City is still suffering the effects of the devastation, but there is a new sense of City pride, creativity and community happening too- and Christchurch is once again a city that should be high on your list of cities to visit.
When you fly into Christchurch or take off from the International or Domestic Terminal in Christchurch you get a fantastic view of the vast patchwork of green paddocks and farm houses on the Canterbury Plains, and then shortly after the Alps come into view. It is definitely worth getting a window seat if you can for the stunning panorama below you.
In Christchurch City there is a lot to see and also being so close to the coast but also the Southern Alps and ski fields – there is also a lot of places to see and travel to that are all close by including Mt Hutt Ski Fields, Methven Ski Resort as well as Mt Cook all relatively close to Christchurch.
Christchurch City –
Christchurch has a population of around 340,000, so quite a big city by New Zealand standards, and there is a lot to see and do. These are some of the places to visit –
Christchurch is certainly a beautiful city surrounded by hills, the harbour, Canterbury Plains and beaches and coastline. In winter there are the ski fields not far away, and in summer there are the beaches – some of the best being Redcliffs, Sumner and Waimari Beaches, and then there are the hills – Port Hills being one of the main attractions. Port Hills has mountain bike trails as well as walking trails, and being so close to Christchurch makes it very popular with locals as well as tourists.
Then of course there is Lyttelton and its Harbour, and the Banks Peninsula to see too – all close to Christchurch.
Lyttelton – and Lyttelton Harbour are only a short distance out of Christchurch with the two separated by a 2 kilometre long tunnel that runs under the mountains. Lyttelton has a population of around 3000 people, and is where cruise liners dock when coming to Christchurch. Besides the small town and its cafés and eating places, there is also a Ferry Service that can take you to Quail Island, just off-shore. This small island was once a Leper Colony, and then for a time it was used by Antarctica Explorers, Captain Robert Falcon Scott(1868-1912), Ernest Shackleton(1874-1922) and Robert Byrd (1888- 1957)as a Quarantine Station and also for training Russian Sled dogs and Manchurian ponies before setting out on their Antarctic expeditions. The Quarantine Station was operational between 1901 and 1929. The concrete base remnants of the original kennels can still be seen on the island.
The Ferry Service (See www.blackcat.co.nz for timetables and destinations) which has operated since 1888 will also take you from the B Jetty Wharf in Lyttelton to the other side of the Harbour to Diamond Harbour – and the ferry ride, harbour and also landscape around you make for a good trip. Also the Company can take you to see Hector Dolphins too, and there are lots of walking trails of both short and longer distances to go on.
Akaroa – is on the Banks Peninsula and was the original French Settlement in New Zealand (see New Zealand History section of this website). There are still street names in French and Akaroa is about 80 kilometres by road from Christchurch. The road takes you to Little River, and then through mountainous roads so takes about an hour and a half to get there, but it is worth the trip and also staying over if you can. In Akaroa there are all the water sports and activities – from sea kayaking, yachting, sail boarding, swimming, jet skiing, paddle boarding and also great walks, horse riding, quad bike rides and tours organised by a number of companies. Look for interesting historic houses, farm stays and bed and breakfast places, and check out the Akaroa Museum, churches, Giant’s Cottage (68 Rue Balguerie ), Barry’s Bay Cheeses and the Hector Dolphin Cruises, as well as the Pohatu-Flea Bay little Penguin Colony. Good food and coffee too is a bonus!
Kaikoura is 180 kilometres north of Christchurch in a stunning location – with deep ocean on one side of a peninsula with high cliffs and inlets, the Canterbury Plains and then a backdrop of the snow top Kaikoura ranges. You can stand on the Esplanade and look out to the ocean or turn and look to the mountains behind you.
Just off-shore the ocean drops into a deep 2000 metre deep channel, which attracts whales, dolphins, seals and other wildlife to the region – with lots of tour operators providing whale watching, dolphin spotting and other scenic wonders from boats but also aircraft too. Great fishing, diving and other water sports are all here too, with mountain climbing, the Kaikoura Track walk along the coastline and even Llama Trekking all available.
To appreciate this great little town of around 3500 people, head to Fyffe House on the top of the Peninsula at 62 Avoca Street, or take a Maori Culture Tours (See www.maoritours.co.nz ), and for a unique experience swim with seals at 50 West End (See www.sealsswimkaitoura.co.nz)
ALSO SEE – Ski Resorts including Mt Cook on a separate section of this website.