Our journey across New Zealand’s south island started (and ended) from its largest city, Christchurch. We made Christchurch our base and returned to it three times during the course of our journey. With super friendly locals, we were able to make the most of Christchurch through its farmer’s market, pubs and epic sunsets.
As beautiful as the city is, the sights one sees are often a reminder of the devastating series of earthquakes between 2010 and 2012. Every local we spoke to had their own reason as to why the city has taken its time to rebuilt itself. However, amidst all that rubble lies uniqueness in the form of shipping containers, cardboard cathedrals and giant murals. There is definitely a lot of things to see in Christchurch, so let me tell you about them.
Top 5 Things To Do In Christchurch
1. Christchurch Cathedral & Cathedral Square
The Christchurch Cathedral stands in the heart of the city on Cathedral Square. Today, it stands partially destroyed thanks to the series of earthquakes. Other major portions of the cathedral were also removed over the years following the earthquakes. Since 2013, the cathedral community has moved on to the Cardboard Cathedral.
2. The Cardboard Cathedral
The Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, is the transitional pro-cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch. It opened in August 2013 and was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. It is constructed from 60-centimetre diameter cardboard tubes, timber and steel. The roof is made of polycarbon with eight shipping containers forming the walls. It really is an innovative piece of design and architecture.
3. Re:Start Mall
The Re:Start Mall is another reminder of the city’s earthquake. And just like the Cardboard Cathedral, it’s innovative and unique. The mall consists of retailers, coffee shops, and outlets all housed inside bright colourful shipping containers.
4. Ruins and murals
Locals joked that Christchurch was once the city of parks, now it’s the city of car parks (and traffic cones). True! In the heart of the city, where once buildings stood, most plots lie empty or have been converted into car parks. Ruins of old buildings can still be seen in the city’s centre and on the sides of the odd standing building are painted murals. Massive, colourful murals decorate and add colour to the city.
5. Hagley Park
Although we never really got a chance to explore Hagley Park, it’s hard to miss when you’re driving around Christchurch. At 406 acres, the park covers a large chunk of the city. While driving around, one couldn’t help but notice the rows of cherry blossoms, dogs and a plethora of sports fields.
6. Experience The Tranzalpine Train Journey
I have dedicated an entire blog post on the Tranzalpine Train journey.