In February 2011 the devastating Christchurch earthquake caused widespread damage and produced around 400,000 tonnes of silt in New Zealand’s second most deadliest natural disaster. Five years on and Post-quake Christchurch is now funky, creative and innovative.
Like a bare canvas with so much promise – creatives are filling empty urban spaces in amazingly innovative ways with unique brightly coloured sculptures and artworks, while builders and architects are remoulding the skyline on the sites of demolished buildings.
International tourism numbers are skyrocketing, hotels struggle to keep up with demand and airlines are offering extra flights into the city.
Although a large amount of damage is paramount in the CBD, many beautiful landmarks have been preserved such as the Isaac Theatre Royal, Antigua Boat Sheds, Christ’s College, New Regent Street and Victoria Square all standing pride of place in their superb original state.
New regent street has now re-opened and with a fresh coat of paint in pastel shades is looking even more exotic than before. It is one of the best examples of Spanish Mission style architecture and one of the most beautiful streets in New Zealand.
On the outskirts of the earthquake-ravaged Red Zone you can find a great example of pop-up innovation – a plaza of stores and restaurants made from brightly coloured shipping containers aptly named Re:START.
These pop-up businesses made up of recycled materials are apparent in all corners of the city. Cool container bars such as the The Revival Bar on Victoria St combine recycled materials, shipping containers, colorful lights and furniture made out of suitcases.
Vivid street art and sculptures are on display around the city providing bright spots in areas dotted with demolition and construction sites. Artists from all over the world are coming together this month to create public artworks in the city centre with the aim to create a completely immersive 3D experience that let you feel as though you are standing inside the artwork.
Cyclists are naturally attracted to the city’s flat and easy to navigate terrain. A strikingly beautiful newly opened bus interchange includes some innovative features such as a bike-lock area, electric charge points for electric bikes and stackable parking, making the city even more bike friendly city.
While the earthquake damage is still largely apparent, this only adds to the eclectic mix and makes for more interesting landmarks for visitors to view, with most large tourist companies concentrating their guided tours on these landmarks.
The Christchurch Cathedral is still one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the city, although now for a different reason – not for its grand beauty but for its delipdating appearance. Overgrown grass surrounds the structure which now has an immense hole in the front with steel beams added for support.
Nearby, a new Transitional Cathedral has been built to replace it. The structure has become known as the “Cardboard Cathedral” due to its recycled building materials and is hailed by some as the most important new building in New Zealand.
There is so much to see in Post-Quake Christchurch. On the rise again, Christchurch is a transitional space that is radically transforming its skyline, progressing through an entrepreneurial can-do attitude that is embedded in New Zealand’s society and will once again look unrecognizable again five years on.