Known as the Garden City

Christchurch is New Zealand's second- largest city, the largest in South Island and the third-most populous urban area. It was once considered quaintly provincial, due to its elegant Victorian buildings and its long held reputation for being the most ‘English’, but now it is busy piecing itself back together after the major earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011 that destroyed most of the city and took 185 lives. After the earthquake of February 2011, 80% of the city’s buildings collapsed or had to be pulled down. Much of the materials from the damaged buildings is being used in the reconstruction. There are vast areas of temporary car parking, where buildings have been ‘deconstructed’ and waiting for reconstruction. 100,000 houses were damaged and 10,000 wait demolition whilst Insurers debate payouts. This has caused a house boom as residents, keen to stay in the city, are all fighting over few houses. While debate takes place over whether, and how, to rebuild the 19th Century Cathedral the city has built an imaginative ‘cardboard Cathedral’ with a high A-frame roof built from reinforced cardboard tubes. Old shipping containers are abundant in use both as reinforced props to hold up cracked, unstable walls and very innovatively as shops. The ReSTART shopping mall contains about 30 brightly coloured containers stacked two high with the lower ones housing shops, banks and cafes. Considering what it has been through Christchurch is functioning extremely well and the people are very positive about its future.

Remembering the Lost

The simple Cardboard Cathedral built quickly to replace its ruined stone predecessor is a spectacular creation of industrial cardboard and corrugated plastic. Alongside is a monument of 185 white chairs is the open-air commemorating each individual victim of the quake. It is opposite the site of the six-story CTV building that collapsed and caught fire causing 115 deaths. A Government report found the building was poorly designed by an inexperienced engineer, inadequately constructed and should never have been issued a building permit.


The settlement of Christchurch in 1850 was an ordered Church of England enterprise, and the fertile farming land was deliberately placed in the hands of the gentry. Christchurch was meant to be a model of class-structured England in the South Pacific, not just another scruffy colonial outpost. Churches were built rather than pubs, and wool made the elite of Christchurch wealthy. In 1862 it was incorporated as a very English city, but its character slowly changed as other migrants arrived; new industries followed, and the city forged its own culture.
NEW ZEALAND - Christchurch
Click to enlarge photos
Canterbury Museum at Hagley Park There was a special Antarctic exploration exhibition with equipment, machinery and living accommodation from Haskells Camp. Also on display is Ivan Mauger’s speedway bike which was gold plated after he won the 1970 World Speedway Championship for the third consecutive year. It took 18 months at a cost of US$500,000.
Botanic Gardens in Hagley Park The Botanic Gardens are set in Hagley Park with the River Avon running along one side. They were created in 1855 but some of the trees look much older due to their growth in the favourable weather conditions.


On Saturday 4 September 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Christchurch and the central Canterbury region at 4:35 am. Located near Darfield, west of the city at a depth of 10km (6.2 mi), it caused widespread damage to the city and minor injuries, but no fatalities. Nearly six months later on Tuesday 22 February 2011, a second earthquake measuring magnitude 6.3 struck the city at 12:51 pm. It was located closer to the city, near Lyttelton at a depth of 5 km (3 mi). Although lower on the magnitude scale than the previous earthquake, the intensity and violence of the ground shaking was measured to be MM IX, among the strongest ever recorded globally in an urban area. 185 people were killed with nationals from more than 20 countries among the victims. Christchurch Cathedral lost its spire and widespread damage was caused to buildings and infrastructure already weakened by 4 September 2010 earthquake and its aftershocks. The total cost to insurers of rebuilding has been estimated at NZ$20–30 billion. On 13 June 2011 Christchurch was again rocked by aftershocks and there were further earthquakes on 23 December 2011 and 2 January 2012. 4,423 earthquakes were recorded in the Canterbury region above a magnitude 3.0, from 4 September 2010 to 3 September 2012. The Central City, which was fully closed off following the 22 February Earthquake, opened in stages and was fully reopened in June 2013. There are still some streets closed off due to earthquake damage, infrastructure repair work, and damaged buildings. Much of the materials from the damaged buildings is being used in the reconstruction. There are vast areas of temporary car parking, where buildings have been ‘deconstructed’ and waiting for reconstruction.