Christchurch, fondly known as the "Garden City", is the South Island of New Zealand’s largest city, boasting a population of 341,000 people. Christchurch is located one-third of the way down the island’s eastern coast, in the province of Canterbury. The city was first founded in 1848 by the Canterbury Association, although one of the Association’s leading members, John Robert Godley, is widely considered the ‘founder of Canterbury.’ A statue of Godley stands in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, recently restored after having fallen from its plinth in the February 2011 Christchurch Earthquake.
Christchurch has a temperate climate with fewer rain days than New Zealand’s other major cities. Its summers are often moderated by a pleasant nor ‘easterly sea breeze, making summer days comfortably warm – although a record 41.6°C was reached in February 1973! Winter nights are cold, often below 0°C, but winter days are generally bright, sunny and calm.
Christchurch is a popular year-round tourist destination, acting as a gateway to the South Island’s many tourist attractions. Within just two hours of Christchurch, visitors can ski, surf, swim, bungy jump, see an array of wildlife, visit award-winning wineries and gardens, and play golf, amongst many other activities. The city hosts several notable annual events that attract visitors from across the globe, including the World Buskers Festival: each January for the past 21 years, dozens of street performers from across the globe have descended on Christchurch for up to ten days, providing audiences with ‘organised pandemonium, non-stop chaos and uncontrollable laughter’ in a series of mostly free-to-attend performances.
Christchurch and Canterbury experienced a sequence of large earthquakes during 2010 and 2011; the most devastating of these was a magnitude 6.3 quake in February, 2011, that caused widespread damage and destruction and the loss of 185 lives. The city’s CBD buildings were decimated, and around 100,000 homes were damaged with 10,000 of those requiring demolition. Recovery is well underway, however, with the ‘Transitional City’ attracting international acclaim for its vibrant, ever-changing streetscape offering plenty of attractions for visitors and residents alike. Destinations like Re:START, an outdoor retail and cafe precinct built using shipping containers, and the Gap Filler Pallet Pavilion, a popular community space created from 3000 shipping pallets, demonstrate the innovations in temporary architecture that the city has employed to boost its social and economic recovery. The New York Times’ ’52 Places to Go in 2014’ ranked Christchurch #2 on their list of destinations, while Lonely Planet rated it one of its top 10 cities to visit the previous year.