Best of Christchurch

Gateway to the South Island and home to a few sights but nothing to compare with Auckland or Wellington. The scars of the devastating earthquakes of 2010-2012 are still very evident, particularly around the city centre, but the rebuild is underway at last. Worth a couple of days at least to visit…

Christchurch Transitional Cathedral (aka the Cardboard Cathedral)
Smaller but lighter and more beautiful than expected, particularly the coloured glass letting light flood in, and the nicely designed complimentary chairs.

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Canterbury Museum
Probably the best museum of its kind in New Zealand, I’d rate above Auckland Museum and Te Papa in Wellington. Very well presented exhibits, and packs a lot in, including Antarctica, local history, an Asian collection, stuff birds, dinosaurs, an Egyptian mummy, and Fred & Myrtle’s shell house!

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Christchurch Anglican Cathedral
The former heart of Christchurch, which made it’s devastation during the earthquakes particularly tragic. The remains are evocative of the A-Bomb dome in Hiroshima.

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Earthquake damage
Pretty morbid but inescapable, particularly in and around Cathedral Square, though some engaging murals enliven some areas. A good way to understand the extent, and to get around Christchurch generally, is to hire a bike. It’s flat and has some of the best cycle infrastructure in the country.

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Modern architecture
Signs of the rebuild are all around, with distinctive glass boxes emerging everywhere, other than the city centre it appears though.

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Avon River
A pretty languid, meandering but scenic squiggle of a river that travails around the city centre, offering punting and plentiful duck feeding opportunities.

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Hagley Park
Apparently the second large city park in the world, after Central Park in New York, Hagley Park isn’t particularly engaging but does make for a pleasant running route, and includes the Botanic Gardens and Canterbury Museum.

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Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Quite nice botanic gardens, particularly good for fans of huge trees (who should also visit the Redwoods in Rotorua).

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Shopping centres aren’t usually sights to see in their own right but this is an exception, demonstrating the flexibility of shipping containers, and effectiveness of imagination and some paint.

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Christchurch Art Gallery
Not open again until late 2015 but having been before the quakes I can vouch for it being one of the best in the country, in terms of the building at least, as most of the work is from temporary exhibitions, which can be variable.

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Author: jontycrane

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